Inclusion and Equality

We recognise that individuals and communities may experience unlawful discrimination on the grounds of their race or ethnicity, disability, gender (including transgender and transsexual people), relationship or marital status, sexual orientation (because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual), age, HIV status, language, background, physical or mental impairment, faith or religious belief or physical appearance.

We believe equality for all is a basic human right and actively oppose all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination. We celebrate the diversity of society and are striving to promote and reflect that diversity within the County FA’s own structure. With this in mind, we achieved the Foundation Level of the National Standards for Equality in 2009, and followed this up with Preliminary Level in 2015, demonstrating and measuring our commitment to this.

If you have any queries or questions relating to this statement, would like copies of our equality literature or if you have any issues relating to equality generally, please contact your local Football Development Officer. Documents relating to individual disciplinary charges which involve a discriminatory element can be found below.

Inclusion Advisory Group

The Essex County FA Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG) meet regularly at the County Office in Chelmsford to discuss ways of encouraging more participation from disability, ethnicity, faith and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGB&T) communities.

Former Ipswich Town and Republic of Ireland midfielder Matt Holland is one of the members, citing his personal experience of racism, plus the knowledge he picked up from his playing days, as motivators for him joining the group. Joining Matt are individuals with knowledge of the game from a variety of perspectives:

Kirsty Clarke (Chair): Kirsty is a sports development professional, having worked both regionally and nationally at Sport England. She is now the National Development Director at Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby. In addition to her professional role within sport, Kirsty is also studying for a PhD investigating women’s football fanship. Having worked with a number of sports to look at how inclusivity can be maximized, she relishes being part of the IAG. As someone who plays and manages football locally, Kirsty is passionate about driving change and she believes that her professional and academic skills and expertise will offer a considerable contribution to ensuring diversity within football can be celebrated.

Mark Healy (Vice-Chair): As a former Regional Development Manager for the English Federation of Disability Sport and, more recently, the Grassroots and Community Officer for Kick It Out, practitioners and champions of equality and inclusion inspire Mark, as well as those in Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) community groups who work hard to deliver all-inclusive programmes. Mark is a former Inclusion Officer at the Essex County FA, who was tasked with establishing the IAG as one of the targets of The FA’s Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan. He now works for Sporting Equals, a charity whose main aim is to develop sport and physical activity for BAME communities in England. Mark also volunteers at the East Region Junior Disability Athletics Championships, and has done since 2008. He feels there isn’t enough knowledge and experience in grassroots to engage with “hard-to-reach” groups, but he believes this can be improved if football structures regularly impart this to the volunteer workforce. Mark thinks ladies’ football has experienced huge advances, as have disability and walking football. But he’s aware inequality still exists in football and, indeed, all sport. He says every member of any community should have the opportunity to enjoy sport and be free from all forms of discrimination and inequality.

Dale Spiby: Dale is the Chief Executive Officer of Southend United Community & Educational Trust. He joined Southend in 2011 from then Football League Two rivals Rotherham United where he’d spent 16 years, both as a player and, more recently, operating within their Community Sports Trust. Dale joined the Millers’ Football in the Community scheme in 1998 and went on to become the youngest Head of Community in the country, aged just 26. During his tenure he led Rotherham to the prestigious title of ‘Community Club of the Year’ at the Football League Awards, going on to secure the club the ‘Racial Equality Standard’ from Kick It Out. Dale is very pleased to be contributing to the IAG. His role for the last 16 years has been to use the power of football and the brand of a professional football club to assist in removing barriers to participation for underrepresented groups. He believes wholeheartedly that, with positive interventions, we can empower communities, increase social tolerance and create a sense of belonging.

Joe Lyons: Joe is involved with the West Ham United Community Sports Trust who, amongst many other projects, break down barriers to sports participation, bring together communities through the power of football and create life-changing opportunities for the participants on their schemes. Working in this environment has given Joe experience of providing sporting, educational, health and life skills programmes which promote inclusivity and the acquisition of skills to improve wellbeing and fulfilment. He believes community schemes, including those at football clubs, have built a clearer picture of the people the sport engages with. Joe brings this knowledge to the IAG to help catalyse further progress in this field.

Karen Bush: In her current role as the Equality & Diversity Manager at the University of Essex, Karen works to promote good equality and diversity practice in all aspects of the university’s activities, ensuring that it meets its legal and reporting obligations and developing staff and student engagement. Therefore, she has experience of working with a wide range of people who come from a variety of backgrounds, with a variety of different experiences. Being an avid football fan, and having watched both her son and daughter play at various levels over a number of years, Karen is aware of the challenges faced by the Essex County FA in creating a truly inclusive culture within the game. Karen believes she can use her knowledge and experience to contribute to making a positive difference to football in Essex. She’s excited at the prospect of being involved in the Inclusion Advisory Group and is looking forward to working with other like-minded people to promote inclusion and tackle all forms of discrimination.

Matt Holland: Former professional footballer who played over 700 games and captained AFC Bournemouth, Ipswich Town, Charlton Athletic and the Republic of Ireland. Matt scored in the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals and captained Ipswich to play-off success at Wembley in 2000. He currently works in the media for various outlets in both England and Ireland, notably BT Sport, talkSPORT and Setanta Sports. Matt feels it is important that football is accessible to as many people as possible to widen the talent available at all levels of the game. He says we need to make people feel confident that discrimination can be reported and that it will be dealt with accordingly. Matt has previously supported Show Racism the Red Card.

Wayne Deller: Wayne is a member of the Board of Directors at the Essex County FA and he believes inclusion and equality are not just important in football, but throughout society. He knows of friends of different ethnic origins and sexualities who avoid football, or any other team sport, as they feel excluded. Wayne says this is especially true of partly disabled and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGB&T) friends. He is very passionate that anybody who wants to participate should be not only able to do so, but encouraged to do so. Since refereeing in a small football tournament for disabled people, which he rated as one of the most uplifting experiences of my life for the simple gratitude shown, Wayne has become determined to try and make a difference. He uses a stick to assist his walking, so he’s become more and more aware that so many of our football pitches and grounds are anything but disabled friendly, so he’d be proud of anything he can do to improve the situation for all underrepresented groups.

Pat Hector: Profile coming-up.

Easier Reporting With Kick It Out App: Kick It Out are currently offering a reporting app, providing users with the ability to attach video, photo and audio evidence to complaints to help support investigations into discriminatory abuse and behaviour across football.

The free app allows users to confidentially report incidents they may see, hear or witness at a match. It can operate on over 95% of smartphones and focuses on gathering conclusive evidence for investigations. The free app is available on iOS and Android devices. You can download it now from the App Store ( and Google Play (

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