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FA Review After ‘Concerns’ Raised By England Para-Football Players

October 23, 2020

The FA is conducting an internal review of the culture in its England Para-football squads after “concerns” were anonymously raised by players.

The governing body said it was taking the issues “very seriously” and would “offer support to anyone who needs it”.

Funding agency UK Sport have been asked to help interpret the results of the review and make recommendations.

The FA supports international elite blind, partially-sighted, cerebral palsy, deaf and powerchair squads.

Les Reed, the FA’s technical director, has written to the players informing them that a survey would be conducted “as a consequence of some recent feedback”.

In his email, seen by the BBC, Reed explained it was being done “in case anything needs to change”.

Players were told that John Donnelly, UK Sport’s head of integrity, would be helping to assess the results and conducting focus groups after the review was over.

Among the questions players have been asked was: “Are you aware of times when there has been poor behaviour towards you or others in your team? Eg negative or abusive comments, bullying or discrimination?”

Players were also asked if they and their team were treated fairly, whether they were treated with respect and dignity, and if the Para-teams were well led.

When approached, an FA spokesman said: “The FA is currently undertaking a cultural review across our Para-football teams in collaboration with UK Sport.

“This review follows some recent anonymised concerns that were raised to us about the culture within Para-football.

“Although these concerns have not been raised as formal complaints, we still take them very seriously and have quickly begun a confidential process to better understand the full nature of these matters and to offer support to anyone who needs it.

“Throughout this process, we have been working alongside UK Sport who have been able to provide an independent perspective as we look to address any issues as diligently as possible, whilst respecting anyone who wishes to remain anonymous.

“The wellbeing of our employees, coaches and athletes is something we really care about, and we will continue to do everything we can to offer a safe way for people to speak up.

“Since 2017, we have partnered with UK Sport across a number of initiatives including upskilling our coaches on how to handle complaints and grievances in a high-performance environment. We have introduced robust processes to manage any concerns that we are made aware of so that we can take the appropriate course of action.”

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