Non-League and grassroots are the bedrock of football. Everyone should be able to enjoy it.

By Tony Burnett, CEO, Kick It Out

Having played Non-League football, I know how much the game means to the communities that support and grow out of clubs around the country at this level. Passion, hard work, loyalty and enjoyment runs through Non-League, it is the lifeblood of football. In stadiums just like this one, up and down the country, fans, players, coaches and club staff dedicate their afternoons, seasons, sometimes whole lives to supporting the football club they love.

Non-League Day is a chance to celebrate that. All the people that make games like this possible, on and off the pitch, and the communities that have been created as a result. But, as these communities are becoming increasingly diverse, clubs must do as much as they can to help make fans, players and staff from all different backgrounds feel welcome. 

Football should be a game for everyone. Stadiums, whether Non-League or Premier League, should be places where all fans feel like they belong. Where players can revel in incredible football atmospheres without having to worry about supporters crossing the line.  They should be places where fans of all races and religions, women, those with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ communities can access and enjoy matches safe in the knowledge that these spaces are for them as much as they are for anyone else. 

Creating footballing spaces free from discrimination is part of what we do at Kick It Out. When incidents do happen, we work with the relevant authorities to ensure those responsible are held accountable for their actions. We also deliver a range of education initiatives, to fans found guilty of discriminatory abuse, as well as sessions delivered to Academy players across English football. And when clubs and leagues need support developing their own diversity and inclusion practices, we guide them through that process. 

But we cannot do any of this without your help. Reporting is our greatest weapon against discrimination in football – without it we are fighting in the dark. So if you see or hear any discrimination in the stands this Non-League Day, or any other day, please report to us at Together we can get rid of racism, homophobia, misogyny. Together we can kick it out for good.