FA make diversity plan as frustration grows over social media ‘platitudes’

The Football Association is looking to create a more diverse workforce. Credit: PA

By ITV News Sports Producer Daniel Salisbury-Jones

The Football Association has called on social media companies to think about the "psychological trauma" online abuse is having on players.

As it outlined its own targets for diversity over the coming years, the FA singled out online platforms as one of the biggest threats to inclusiveness.

“One of the challenges we have and continue to have is the online abuse.

"The reality is we continue to see and hear platitudes from social media organisations about tackling online abuse,” the FA’s Director of International Relations and Corporate Affairs Edleen John said.

“We have to understand the psychological abuse and the psychological trauma that causes.

"That is why we are calling on social media companies to take this seriously. Don’t just focus on creating additional engagement on their platforms and creating more money.

“They’re able to really quickly create algorithms mechanisms to tackle copyright infringement.

"They should be having that same level of focus as it relates to online abuse. We’ve been hearing platitudes for too long.”

The FA’s Director of International Relations and Corporate Affairs Edleen John calls for 'platitudes' from social media companies to end

The FA say the following requests have yet to be met by social media companies:

1) Messages and posts should be filtered and blocked before being sent or posted if they contain racist or discriminatory material.

2) They should operate robust, transparent, and swift measures to take down abusive material if it does get into circulation.

3) All users should be subject to an improved verification process that (only if required by law enforcement) allows for accurate identification of the person behind the account. Steps should also be taken to stop a user who has sent abuse previously from re-registering an account.

4) Platforms should actively and expeditiously assist the investigating authorities in identifying the originators of illegal discriminatory material.

In-person abuse remains an issue and the FA has itself been criticised for how it deals with such complaints in grassroots. 

Almost 20% of cases took longer than 90 days to resolve last season, the FA intend to halve that by 2024.

The strategy also outlines the FA’s ambitions for diversity in its workforce, with targets to increase the number of women and people from Black, Asian, mixed and other ethnic minority backgrounds.

By 2028, women will make up half of the FA’s workforce if the governing body is to match its ambition.

Currently just 37% of employees are female and there is a modest target of increasing that to 40% in the next three years.

Staff from Black, Asian, mixed and other ethnic minority backgrounds make up 12% of the workforce and they want this to increase by a further 5% by 2024.

The FA has 8% of leadership roles taken up by people from those backgrounds and a target has been set for increasing this to 13% over the same period.

There is an acute problem of diversity in the women’s game with just 4% of coaching staff coming from ethnic minority backgrounds. The FA wants to increase this to 10% by 2024.

The most dramatic change though will come through an increase in disabled employees. Currently just 3% of the FA’s entire workforce are disabled but the governing body wants that to increase to 10% in next three years.