Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister, and Jeffrey Webb, chairman of FIFA’s Taskforce Against Racism and Discrimination, will be at the forefront of the line-up of guests gathered to show their appreciation for the 20 years of campaigning work undertaken by Kick It Out to tackle racism and discrimination in football at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday 20 May 2014.
Taking place in the Great Room, the dinner event, organised by ‘Support for Charity’, will round off Kick It Out’s inaugural ‘Season of Action’, profile some of the prominent and respected individuals who have challenged exclusion and hatred in the game, and look to generate on-going support for the organisation’s essential work. Mr Brown and Mr Webb will both deliver speeches on the evening to give their backing to Kick It Out.
Lord Herman Ouseley, the founder and chair of Kick It Out, will also address the event, emphasising the importance of personal, professional, corporate and moral leadership and responsibility from the powerful decision-makers in football if equality, diversity and inclusion are to be achieved. He will also wish to highlight the priorities for the next phase of the organisation’s work.
Jonathan Metliss, a long-standing supporter of Kick It Out and chair of ‘Support for Charity’, said: "We are delighted to be involved in such a worthwhile and important cause. There remains much to be done in fighting racism and discrimination in UK football and I am sure that the dinner will help to galvanise support for the organisation, as well as raising much-needed funds and acknowledging the progress made so far."
Mr Brown, who will be accompanied by his wife Mrs Sarah Brown, has displayed his commitment to challenging hatred and prejudiced attitudes in society and football by supporting initiatives such as the Holocaust Educational Trust and Football Unites, Racism Divides. He also donated £1.37m made through speeches and writings in 2012/13 to fund charitable work.
Mr Webb, president of CONCACAF and the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA), was placed in charge of FIFA’s Taskforce Against Racism and Discrimination in March 2013. He has worked in football for nearly three decades and became FIFA vice-president upon his appointment as president of CONCACAF in May 2012.
“We are honoured to celebrate Kick It Out’s 20th anniversary of hard work tackling discrimination within football,” said Mr Webb. “Football has the power of creating an environment of co-operation that fosters positive role models in society. We must work together towards creating a community that embraces diversity in all its forms.”
The event will bring together the main figures who have backed Kick It Out since its inception as ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’, current and ex-professional footballers, the game’s governing bodies and corporate sponsors, and a number of football clubs from across the Premier League and Football League.
Arsenal, Aston Villa, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Rotherham United, Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur will all be showing their support by being represented at the dinner. In addition, a specially developed accolade, entitled the ‘Laurie Cunningham award’, will be presented on the evening by Laurie’s former West Bromwich Albion team-mates Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis.
The event will also comprise the exclusive screening of a 20 year anniversary film about the history of Kick It Out co-produced by Ivor Baddiel and Meriel Beale, and a panel discussion, to be hosted by Garth Crooks, with Gordon Taylor and David Davies, who were key supporters of the campaign named ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’ back in 1993.