Young male football player on pitch, low section

Premier League football players will now have mandatory sexual consent training

Posted by and for News

The news comes after campaigners wrote a public letter to end gender-based violence in the sport. 

Members of male Premier League football teams will now face mandatory sexual consent lessons after pressure from campaigners. 

The news comes after pressure from campaign groups End Violence Against Women Coalition, The Three Hijabis and Level Up. Earlier this year, they demanded that the Football Association and the Premier League end violence against women in the sport, with their first request being the introduction of this mandatory training for all players, managers, coaches and owners. 

They met with Premier League officials in March, and again in June, to discuss how the action points can be implemented. While the groups say the FA have not engaged with them since February 2022, they are now celebrating the news – but still say more needs to be done. 

“This is a defining moment for football. The Premier League are finally beginning to recognise the enormous influence that this sport has on our culture and our individual behaviours,” says Level Up co-director Seyi Falodun-Liburd. “We want to see all the actions from our open letter implemented… but this is an encouraging start. Hopefully, this move will provide a good example for the FA who still refuse to engage with us”

Currently, the Premier League runs workshops for the academy and first-team players from under-14s to under-23s on subjects including sexual harassment and seeking consent. However, training was never compulsory for senior professionals or management. 

The new programme will come into force at the start of the new season, and clubs that fail to introduce the training will face disciplinary action. 

The original letter from campaigners, published in February, also called for all clubs to sign a charter to tackle gender-based violence, setting out minimum standards for policies and action to tackle unacceptable behaviour; to adopt clear sexual misconduct policies and impose appropriate consequences and disciplinary action on players; and for academies to introduce prevention programmes for young people. 

In the letter, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition Andrea Simon wrote: “From the scale of cases we are seeing, it’s clear that football needs to address its systemic and cultural issues with violence against women. Rape and abuse are rooted in women’s inequality and footballers hold a particular position of power and influence and are commonly looked at as role models by boys and men.

“We’ve seen the impact of campaigns to keep racism out of football in shaping fans’ attitudes and behaviours – and that work is not done, but we also need for the sport to start meaningfully addressing the issues of sexual violence and domestic abuse.”

Falodun-Liburd added: “Prevention is always more effective than punishment. Right now there is an overwhelming culture of impunity in football that normalises gender-based violence, like sexual assault and domestic abuse, that must be dramatically shifted if they are serious about addressing the problem at the root.

“This is an important moment in football, and fans want those with power – the Football Association and the Premier League – to step up and do right by the people who have been harmed, and by football as a whole.”

At the time, an FA Spokesperson said that they “strongly condemn violence and prejudice of any kind, including misogyny, and encourage anyone who has been the subject of, or witness to, this type of behaviour to report it to the Police and the relevant authorities so that it can be investigated”.

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