In 2019, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said that he was “ashamed” to see extremist views being expressed at soccer stadiums and that “certain leaders” play down these incidents. Through the murderous reign of ISIS, football fans were killed for “watching a sport that was un-Islamic” and football stadiums have witnessed brutal attacks and beheadings by religious and fascistic fundamentalists alike. Thankfully, the battle against racism and bigotry has been bolstered by the support for the Black Lives Matter Movement with demands for better inclusion and diversity-based education being heeded. But what can be done about the growing, threatening and dangerous forms of hate and violent extremism, what are the links between sport and extremism, how can sport help prevent radicalisation, how do we counter online-attacks rather than just point fingers at the social media companies, what can measurably be achieved to address the ‘rise in extremist’ behaviors that targets Muslims, Jews and “non-white” communities by so called ‘far-right inspired football hooligans’ and how ultimately can sports-based education be deployed to navigate those who are vulnerable to extremist ideologies away from behaviors and actions of hate and violence through legacy-based sports initiatives?
Media Cultured are at the vanguard of this crucial work in both sport and in education, providing answers to some of the most difficult questions the world faces. This work includes the delivery of Preventing Extremism workshops for the Premier League and sessions for national charities involved with safeguarding. We work closely with a number of professional and grassroots clubs and we have made award winning films including and an internationally screened short film called Combinations, featuring an Olympic torch-bearing boxing coach who uses his gym, experiences and values to promote respect, unity and understanding.
At a workshop for Burnley FC in 2019 an U18 scholar praised one of our workshops as “the best Premier League session yet” and we have also delivered sessions at Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough FC, Arsenal, Sunderland and Hull City receiving great reactions from all. In 2020 Media Cultured won a national award as the best provider of ‘Racism and Extremism Awareness Training’ workshops in the UK and also a Northern Region Award For ‘Excellence in Culturally Diverse Equality Training’.
Anti-racism workshops and equality work has its place in sport but the demand, call and urgent need for action and education that enables sport to be safe for fans from acts of terrorism and educates about the threat of radicalisation and extremism, is just as, if not more important. Media Cultured provide world-leading, nuanced, non-preachy high-impact support to clubs and communities across the UK and hope to do so around the world. The very real threat of all forms of extremism, identitarianism and hate is on the rise and although Covid-19 has increased these threats our work is making a difference.
Amjid Khazir “We are on a momentous journey, that asks a duty and responsibility of us all, we hope our message of education to recognise and counter extremism through sport will reach clubs and communities around the world, we know it is very much needs too”