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7th Feb, 2024

Kick It Out and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi team up to tackle islamophobia

Kick It Out has appointed The Rt Hon Baroness Warsi as an ambassador to support the fight against Islamophobia in football and society.

The appointment comes amid an almost five-fold increase in reports of faith-based discrimination received by the inclusion charity in the first half of the 2023-24 season compared to the first half of the previous season.

This has included a four-fold increase in Islamophobia, which also rose in the previous season, that risks leaving Muslim communities feeling excluded from football and other sports.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is a former Co-Chair of the Conservative Party, and served as a Government Minister in the Cabinet Office, Foreign Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government where she worked with religious leaders to promote faith, tolerance and stronger communities within the UK.

Baroness Warsi will establish and chair an Islamophobia Working Group for Kick It Out, which is marking its 30th anniversary this season.

The Working Group will seek to support football in developing best practice to tackle this type of discrimination at all levels - from the professional game through to grassroots, from the boardroom to the dressing room, and from the stands to social media.   

It will also consider how football can use its unique power to engage Muslim communities more deeply and build greater cohesion with others who are invested in football and beyond. We expect to confirm the other members of the Working Group in the coming weeks.

Baroness Warsi said: “I’m delighted to lead this work for Kick It Out and look forward to building a team to support this necessary initiative. As levels of Islamophobia spike and recent Home Office data on hate crime sadly shows that nearly 40% of all religiously motivated hate crime is targeted at Muslims this work is both critical and timely.

“Football must continue to strive to be an inclusive and welcoming place for all and a force for good to tackle Islamophobia and other forms of racism.”

Chair of Kick It Out, Sanjay Bhandari added: “We have partnered with several Muslim-led organisations over recent years seeking to tackle Islamophobia through advocacy and education. 

“Given the recent rise in reports of Islamophobic incidents, we felt that it was important to obtain further support from a range of experts. Baroness Warsi was the outstanding candidate to lead in bringing that group together and we are honoured to be working with her.

 “Our mission is to make football a game where everyone feels that they belong. Football has an opportunity to be a leader in kicking out Islamophobia and to use its unique power to create cohesion across social divides.”