Last Updated: 11/08/18 8:35am
Paul Elliott says he remains immensely proud to be associated with Kick It Out as the anti-discrimination campaign celebrates its 25th anniversary on Sunday.
Elliott, his former Aston Villa team-mate John Fashanu, and PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor, were instrumental in the launch of the campaign in 1993, which was spearheaded by former Campaign for Racial Equality [CRE] chair Lord Herman Ouseley.
The organisation – originally known as Kick Racism Out of Football – has lasted the test of the time and Elliott describes their work over the last quarter of a century as a ‘catalyst for change’.
“The atmosphere in football for black players in England [during the Eighties] was toxic with booing, monkey chanting and all the rest of it,” he told the Football Association’s website.
“A few years later, on the back of a brilliant footballing and cultural experience playing for Pisa in Italy and then for Celtic in Scotland where I was on the receiving end of more racism, I was in a more mature position to articulate the narrative of my journey.
“I wanted to talk about human rights and black players’ rights to work in a racism-free environment, so when I got introduced to Herman through the CRE, we just hit it off instantly.
“I was a member of the PFA so I knew Gordon well and his leadership in that area was always important at what was a difficult time for football and society.
“The whole Kick It Out ethos has been in my DNA ever since, in everything I do, the people I speak to, whether that’s at schools, colleges, nationally or internationally.
“At the start, many people thought it wouldn’t be sustainable and there was a lot of negativity. But the players and people that mattered respected it and knew it was well-intentioned.
“The journey since then has been fantastic, so much has been done and the work is still going on. Remember, Kick It Out is essentially a charity, it’s a campaigning organisation with no statutory or regulatory powers.”
“There have been so many people involved since the start who have done great work, people like Louise Ansari, Brendon Batson, David Dein and Bob Purkiss.
“And there are the people who have been doing the hard miles in the engine room. It’s always easy to turn up when the cameras are there but it’s about what happens when the camera goes away. In order to make sustainable change, you have to be committed and dedicated.
“That’s why Kick It Out has got such great strength and potency and it was the catalyst for change, not just in football but across society too with the impact it’s had in schools and educating people beyond that.”