In March 2021, following previous letters to The FA about protecting children in sport (hereand here), and to the Premier League (here), we wrote to The FA to urge them to start embedding children's rights as part of all their operations and practices.
The letter was signed by many people and can be read here. See photo version below.
The FA has today (23 March 2021) agreed that we can release their response. It is set out in full below (with third party names and contact details redacted ).
Thank you for your correspondence raising the important issues of listening to children and children’s rights within football.
As we all know, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will have adversely affected children in many different ways. This includes limiting opportunities to access face to face learning and other extra-curricular activity, including access to open spaces to play in organised and non-organised activity and sport.
The FA recognises that sport, including football, plays a significant role in the lives of thousands of children. Football has a powerful role to play in supporting children to not only develop football skills, but also contribute to their overall physical, emotional and social development – forming friendships, developing skills and a passion for the game they love.
The FA has worked closely with the Dept. for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to ensure Grassroots Football has been enabled to return as soon as possible in line with Government Covid-19 national and local restrictions. Over the last year we have recognised the challenges faced by football of re-commencing activity during the pandemic. We have provided clubs and leagues with new resources (including guidance and template safeguarding risk assessments) in addition to our existing safeguarding policies, procedures and guidance. This has supported clubs and teams to put measures in place to ensure that football is enabled to return safely, and that children’s needs are being appropriately considered.
We believe that providing opportunities to empower children to have a voice and for those voices to be heard is essential in keeping children safe within our sport. This year will see The FA develop a new Safeguarding strategy for football, within which Children’s Voices will be a core pillar. We are committed to ensuring that children are enabled to contribute to this development, and over the course of the next few months we will be planning how we will make this happen.
[Redacted name] who I believe you’re acquainted with, would be happy to arrange a convenient time to speak with you on this subject and consider further how we will seek to embed championing children’s rights into our strategy across the game.
[Redacted name] will be in touch with you in the coming weeks to arrange this.
Thank you for your continued championing of children’s rights and the fantastic work you do week in and week out, to support children in and through football locally.
We hope that The FA will indeed get in touch to continue this discussion and we aim to keep you posted on this page.
We note that Scotland has recently incorporated the UNCRC in to domestic law and we believe that the time is right to start understanding and implementing respect for rights across our game.
Our work on rights
In the meantime, if you are interested in knowing more about children's fundamental rights, why not start with some of our introductory videos and documents!