John Williams, the Director of the University of Leicester Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football was recently invited by Home Office Minister, Lord Bassam, to sit on the Home Office’s new Working Group on Football Disorder.
The new group has been convened to try to address, particularly, the sometimes xeonophobic and racist behaviour of football supporters who follow England’s international matches at home and abroad. The Home Office has been impressed by the anti-racist work involving the Sir Norman Chester Centre, and is also keen to draw upon Leicester’s expertise in analysing football hooliganism.
As well as looking at issues of ticketing and managing supporters, the group will also look at ideas for reconfiguring the collective identity of fans when they follow the England team. Education and community initiatives in football are also on the agenda for investigation in order to develop longer term strategies for dealing with these issues.
One of the first things the Working Group will also be considering is a recent piece of survey work in the Centre, involving PhD student Steve Bradbury, on anti-racism and policies of inclusion at professional English clubs.
The Working Group will visit football clubs, local authorities and supporter and other organisations in order to help develop its ideas and recommendations. It will report to Parliament, via the Minister, in 2001. John Williams, Director of the Sir Norman Chester Centre, said : " This is an interesting new approach which promises to try to connect up longer term policies with short term strategies. This means we get to look at ticketing and policing and all of those ‘on-the-ground’ issues, but we also discuss policies for dealing with the constructions of certain kinds of racist and nationalist identities around the England national team. This also fits with other government concerns about racism and violence in other arenas. A bit of ‘joined up’ thinking, perhaps, for once.”
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