Paul Elliot believes football faces different challenges in the 21st Century

Andrew Scott, 4th Year UWS Sports Journalism

The Football Collective kicked off today at Hampden Park in Glasgow, amongst a variety of different speakers and academics was none other than ex-professional footballer and chairman of the FA’s Inclusion Adversary Board, Paul Elliot.

Elliot joined a panel of four which included Professor Kevin Hylton, Professor Grant Jarvie and Funke Awoderu as they discussed the challenges faced to re-imagine race, diversity and opportunity in football.

In an interview, the former Celtic defender explained what the debate entailed:

“I was speaking today about equality, diversity and inclusion, I spoke about my journey as young player in England growing up in different environments.”

As a player growing up in a generation that experienced racial hatred, on his retirement he became integral in breaking down barriers in the game in reptiles to equality and diversity.

Because of this work, he was made an MBE in 2003 and subsequently a CBE in 2012 for his contribution to the subject.

The FA council member noted the obstacles that were overcome but stressed that there was still a long way to go.

“The whole landscape has changed, that’s been a massive, massive success story. Whereas now, we’ve got 21st-century challenges, different challenges.”

The challenged mentioned in the debate was how football faces fresh problems in the age of social media with disability, sexism and ageism as well.

As the discussion concluded, Elliot commented that he was looking forward to implementing change.

“I’m looking forward to the implementations of self-solutions.”

The football collective will run at Hampden until the 30th of November.

This post is part of a series of articles from the University of West of Scotland Sports Journalism students who are covering the Football Collective’s “Changing the Narrative” conference in Glasgow, at Hampden, Scotland’s National Stadium.

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