(Pictured above: Humayun Islam of Bangla Bantams, winners of last year's Fans for Diversity Award, with Roisin Wood from Kick It Out.)
Next week (Monday 4th December) sees us dish out our annual FSF Awards in partnership with Virgin Media. And while everyone has their views on the best pundits, players and podcasts, the Fans for Diversity award is a little bit different, championing some of the unsung heroes among football's fanbases.
It's the second year that we've handed out an award in this category, and it's there to recognise those fan groups and initiatives that the FSF, along with our friends at Kick It Out, feel have best helped spread the message of anti-discrimination and ensured that clubs and their crowds are more representative of the communities surrounding them.
With that in mind, we thought we'd give you a bit of background information on the six groups that have made the shortlist this year, in their own words:
Blues 4 All
"Blues 4 All are an official supporters group for Birmingham City FC. We strive to promote, encourage and champion equality and diversity in football and work closely with our local community, fans, sports and faith groups with the aim of making football all-inclusive.
"Born from a simple idea of bringing communities together whilst supporting a major Championship football club, Blues 4 All is continually striving to voice its message to all parts of England’s wonderfully diverse second city and beyond. By introducing the next generation of young supporters in a safe and fun environment we can ensure the future of both our club and the national game we all love so much whilst encouraging equality and diversity"
Proud & Palace
"Proud and Palace was created to provide a voice and a visible presence for LGBT identifying supporters of Crystal Palace FC. Many of the group have been regulars at Selhurst for 30 years and more, we primarily talk about football (tough right now!) and this authentic voice give us tremendous credibility with other Palace fans. And when we need to, we are not shy at calling out homophobic/transphobic/biphobic behaviour amongst the wider Palace fan base.
"Since our creation we have worked closely with CPFC and other fan groups and our highlights so far have included:
- Being officially recognised by CPFC as the official LGBT fan group of the club
- Having a full page editorial in every match day programme of the 2016/2017
- Sitting on the CPFC equalities committee
- Having the Palace first team wear Proud and Palace T shirts prior to a Premier League match
- Speaking at the launch of the 2017 Rainbow laces campaign alongside the Premier League
- Following the presence of homophobic tweets from Palace fans directed at Brighton and Hove Albion following their promotion, we released a statement making our position clear that this isn't tolerated at CPFC, this statement was further endorsed with more than 20 other Palace fans groups want to add their logo to this statement and then also supported it's circulation across all social media platforms
- Attending a joint meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion LGBT group (Proud Seagulls) about the match at Amex to discuss how we can best address anti LGBT behaviour/chanting
- And probably the best thing, the wider Palace fan base using the existence of Proud and Palace to call out homophobic behaviour
Punjabi Wolves Supporters group
"Punjabi Wolves Supporters, as the name suggests, are a supporter group of our beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers FC representing a diverse and multi-cultural fan base.
"Punjabis have been seen and heard in the Molineux terraces for many a year now and two of the first known were a Mr Laskar Singh & Mr Lachhman whom experienced their first home match back in 1954. They were persuaded by their fellow work colleagues and to attend but, until then, were apprehensive due to hearing about trouble pre & post match and more so venturing into the unknown. Fast forward several years and today Molineux is true representation of multi-cultural Wolverhampton!
"The origins of Punjabi Wolves Supporters are Asian, specifically Punjabi, but we encourage fans from all backgrounds to become a PWS member which will allow you to air your views on the ‘day-to-day’ running of our club."
"L.I.S.A is a not for profit organisation supporting existing lady supporters and encouraging new ones to Lincoln City Football Club. We welcome members irrespective of gender who recognise the benefits of a diverse supporter base both for the wellbeing of individuals and the club itself. Our aims are fully supported by Lincoln City Football Club, the Football Supporters' Federation and Kick It Out. L.I.S.A strives to operate a safe and positive Facebook group and Twitter account."
"Proud Lilywhites, the official Tottenham Hotspur LGBT+ supporters association, was formed by LGBT+ Spurs fans in 2014 with a mission to:
- Support the LGBT+ fans of Tottenham Hotspur;
- Further the pioneering nature of Tottenham Hotspur as a champion of inclusion and diversity;
- Work as an conduit between Tottenham Hotspur and the LGBT+ community with a view to tackling LGBT+phobia in football;
- Promote the visibility of the Tottenham Hotspur’s LGBT+ community and to celebrate its pride in the club;
- Continue to build a safe and social environment for Tottenham Hotspur’s LGBT+ supporters.
"Since then the Proud Lilywhites have grown to be one of the most active and visible Spurs fan groups and have spent the last couple of years campaigning, educating and socialising. One of the founding members of the Pride in Football LGBT+ fan group alliance, they regularly hold matchday meet ups and away game socials, as well as campaigning tirelessly to end LGBT+phobic discrimination in football. They have also worked closely with Tottenham Hotspur and the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to deliver inclusion training to stewards, foundation degree students and across the corporate functions of the club."
Fans for Foodbanks
"The Fans Supporting Foodbanks scheme has been run by Everton and Liverpool fan groups Everton Supporters Trust and the Spirit of Shankly over the past couple of seasons.
"The green-coloured foodbank van is positioned at every Everton and Liverpool home game in the Park End fan zone at Goodison Park, and also in the fan zone opposite the Anfield Road End stand at Anfield, and works with local foodbanks, mosques and community groups to provide help for those most in need."