The 73-year-old former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality founded the charity in 1993 and says it is time for “younger equality advocates and campaigners” to take over.
Ouseley revealed he received hate mail after speaking out about the abuse Raheem Sterling received from Chelsea fans at the weekend. Chelsea have suspended four fans, pending an inquiry, while the Football Association and Metropolitan Police have launched their own investigations.
“I have had a few bits of hate mail after what I said, but that’s not unusual,” Ouseley told The Times. “It was a bad weekend for football and I wanted to ask, ‘where are the employers in this?’ Why weren’t the top people at the FA, Chelsea and the Premier League speaking out about it?”
Ouseley launched Kick Racism Racism Out of Football with the intention of putting a message across to football authorities, but, as he reflects on his time with the charity, he admits it’s been a “long haul”.
“When I set up the Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football in 1993, I hoped that the football authorities would take it on board and tackle the problem. It proved to be a long haul with a slow process of change in pursuit of equality, inclusion and cohesion,” he said in a statement announcing his intention to step down.
“Recent progress across the game in pursuing equalities for all is offset by the wider society afflictions of prejudice and hatred from which football cannot escape.
“Over the past decade, I have indicated my wish each year to step down from the Chair and move on and handover the reins to younger equality advocates and campaigners but have always been told that ‘not now, this is the wrong time’ and no-one else has stuck their head above the parapet to lead the organisation. Well now is the right time for new leadership of Kick It Out as I re-focus my life for new challenges after 56 years of public service.
Kick It Out’s latest statistics showed an increase in racist incidents and a rise in incidents of discrimination in English football and Ouseley has challenged the authorities to do more to help reverse this trend.
“I have thrown challenges at the leaders in football and they need to show their hands – they need to show they are capable of bringing about lasting change if they all come together out of their silos and take a dynamic and coherent approach to meeting the equality challenges.
“Kick It Out is well positioned with excellent staff to keep the momentum of activity afloat in helping football to be a powerhouse for equality, inclusion and diversity. It is also well positioned to continue its excellent work in helping to prepare the next generation of players for the diversity of cultures in the game and to handle all inequalities, discrimination and prejudice.
“There is so much to be done before I sign off next year, so onwards with the action while I prepare to hang up my boots.”
FA chairman Greg Clarke thanked Ouseley for his work and said he has set the tone for others to follow. “Herman’s tireless work in the pursuit of equality and fairness in football is something we can all take inspiration from,” he said. “His efforts have encouraged many to follow a similar path.”
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