As part of an ongoing campaign to tackle gender-based violence in men’s football, the Premier League has announced that all staff and players across 20 clubs will receive mandatory sexual consent training.
The Football Association [FA] has been under pressure from expert gender-based violence campaign groups following a series of sexual assault and rape allegations made against players in the Premier League – many of whom are awaiting trial.
In February 2022, Level Up, The Three Hjiabis, and End Violence Against Women Coalition signed an open letter to the Premier League CEO Richard Masters and FA chief Mark Bullingham, calling for the organisations to decide “which side they are on when it comes to violence against women and girls.”
The open letter demanded four key action points, including mandatory training for all players, managers, coaches and owners on gender-based violence.
The other three action points were the introduction of a Tackling Gender-Based Violence Charter for clubs to sign up to tackle unacceptable behaviour; the adoption of clear sexual misconduct policies and protocols to impose appropriate disciplinary action on players; and the introduction of prevention programmes for young people.
These points have yet to be confirmed or implemented by the Premier League or the FA. According to a press release, the campaign groups met with Premier League officials in March and June to discuss these action points, while the FA hasn’t engaged with them since February 2022.
Level Up co-director Seyi Falodun-Liburd, described the introduction of mandatory consent classes as a “defining moment for football,” adding, “The Premier League are finally beginning to recognise the enormous influence that this sport has on our culture and our individual behaviours. We want to see all the actions from our open letter implemented, particularly consequences and disciplinary actions for players who harm women, but this is an encouraging start.”
She also noted the FA’s apparent refusal to engage with the campaign groups, saying, “Hopefully, this move will provide a good example for the FA who still refuse to engage with us.”
Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said, “Gender-based violence is a pervasive and systemic issue that must be addressed across the football industry as a whole, with urgent and coordinated action. Today’s announcement is a long overdue and important first step in the right direction.
“We now call on football clubs to show which side they’re on when it comes to violence against women by demonstrating transparency, accountability and long-term commitment to implementing these actions.
“What better legacy for the Lionesses’ historic win than uniting us all in meaningful action to transform football’s culture?”
Previously, the Premier League delivered workshops for the academy and first-team players, which included content about sexual harassment and consent. However, this training wasn’t mandatory, which sparked criticism from women’s rights campaigners.
In a statement released today, The Three Hjiabis co-director Shaista Aziz said, “Football belongs to all of us.
“We football fans are a powerful community of people. We understand the transformative force of football to make change on and off the pitch. We’re pleased the Premier League is listening and responding to our campaign and understands the urgency to tackle misogyny and gender-based violence across the game.
“We need the FA to show the same transparent commitment and action change. The Lionesses historic win and legacy deserves nothing less.”
GLAMOUR has reached out to the Football Association for comment. This page will be kept updated.
If you have experienced rape or sexual violence, support is available from Rape Crisis at www.rapecrisis.org.uk or via their helpline, on 0808 802 9999.