SRtRC Honorary Patron Zesh Rehman writes a blog for the PFA
Zesh Rehman is a long-standing supporter and patron of Show Racism the Red Card. As a member of the management committee for the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), he writes a blog for thePFA.com.
Zesh reflects on racism in football and discusses the need to address the barriers faced by all minority ethnic groups within the game:
"Some players decided to boycott the Kick It Out t-shirt during the week of action which has caused some controversy – the views of those players who did not wear the shirts should be listened to so that we can all move forward together in striving for equality within the game.
"The fact that this issue has attracted so much attention means the number of cases over the past two or three decades have significantly decreased, so we must not lose sight of the good work that has been done by Kick It Out, Show Racism the Red Card, the FA and the PFA. The preventative measures in place have certainly been scrutinised with intensity recently but I believe we will all learn from this to make the game better for everyone.
"Rather than point the blame at Kick It Out, we should instead aim to tackle from the bottom upwards rather than top down - more education and work is essential within the grass roots sphere. Ultimately racism stems from ignorance and a lack of education so we need to work with young people continually to make them aware of what is not acceptable as these are the future players, coaches, fans, administrators and decision makers of our game.
"In sum, it is important to understand that the current focus should widen its lens and acknowledge that other minority ethnic groups also face barriers. The paucity of black managers and coaches is a real problem and must be challenged.
"I welcome the PFA’s six-point plan to tackle racism and discrimination in the game but the discussion must be widened to incorporate the struggles that other groups face. Therefore, educating the players, coaches, managers and relevant authorities about the barriers that all minority ethnic groups encounter is essential and in my opinion anyone found guilty of racial abuse be it a player, fan or official should be given a lifetime ban. To play football and be involved in the game is an honour and a privilege which should be treated with respect - which means respecting everyone from ALL backgrounds and cultures."