Riz Rehman with FIFA President Sepp Blatter
The Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF) was invited to be part of the Kick it Out and FIFA football conference at Wembley on Tuesday (31st July 2012) evening. The conference marked an alliance in the ongoing effort to make football, at all levels and in all parts of the world, free from exclusion and discrimination.
Following a football season that has been shadowed by different on and off-field incidents, Kick it Out and FIFA brought together different stakeholders from English Football including the FA, Premier League, Show Racism the Red Card, the PFA and other leading charitable organisations.
ZRF Operations Manager, Riz Rehman said: "It was an honour to be invited to this fantastic gathering at Wembley held by Kick it Out and FIFA.
"Zesh has been an ambassador for Kick it Out for the best part of 10 years and it's great to see them get the recognition their work deserves.
"The ZRF shares similar values to both Kick it Out and FIFA in promoting equality and inclusion at all levels of the game, including the grassroots to achieve positive change.
"It was also great to have the opportunity to speak with Mr Blatter about the work of ZRF which he commended and very supportive of.
"We look forward to working more closely with all stakeholder of the game to see people from all backgrounds better represented in the footballing industry.
Both FIFA and Kick it Out have come under some scrutiny over the last year or so due to many incidents but the event at Wembley kick starts a new working relationship. The FIFA President Joseph S.Blatter pledged a desire to see more equality across all levels of the game.
"We want to work alongside Lord Ouseley and his team to teach people that discipline, fair play and respect should be not only on the field where there is a referee, but in everyday life too. We want to see people treated fairly irrespective of their religion, culture or colour."
Kick it Out Chairman, Lord Herman Ouseley told the 150 invited private guests: "Abuse on the football field goes on all the time. Most of the time it is driven by ignorance, hatred and bigotry.
"Football Authorities have worked tirelessly over the past two decades, and those in charge, both domestically and globally, have the power to make a change; there is still much to be done if we are to eradicate racism and other forms of racism from our game."
The issues regards to the lack of coaches and managers from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds in the professional game was also raised. There is an acute shortage of suitably qualified BME coaches working in football - representing only 4% of football coaches, with South Asians only represent 1% of all coaches in elite football.
FA Chairman David Bernstein committed himself to getting actively involved with projects focusing on tackling this imbalance.
"There is a need to address the levels of diversity and inclusion within the decision making structures of the game. I believe this must be a process from the bottom up.