Lord Ouseley challenged football’s leaders to “show they are capable of bringing about lasting change” after announcing his intention to step down as chairperson of anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out at the end of the season.
The 73-year-old former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality founded the anti-discrimination charity as ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’ in August 1993.
Speaking in August on the 25th anniversary of the organisation’s founding, Ouseley admitted removing discrimination from football was a task which would never be completed.
He also hinted he was preparing to retire – a decision which has now been announced.
He said in a statement: “Over the past decade, I have indicated my wish each year to step down from the chair and move on and handover the reins to younger equality advocates and campaigners but have always been told that ‘not now, this is the wrong time’ and no-one else has stuck their head above the parapet to lead the organisation.
“Well now is the right time for new leadership of Kick It Out as I refocus my life for new challenges after 56 years of public service.
“I have thrown challenges at the leaders in football and they need to show their hands – they need to show they are capable of bringing about lasting change if they all come together out of their silos and take a dynamic and coherent approach to meeting the equality challenges.”
The news comes just a few days after the latest incident which required comment from his organisation when Raheem Sterling was abused during his Manchester City side’s Premier League match at Chelsea last Saturday.
Ouseley revealed in an interview with The Times he had received hate mail following his powerful words in support of Sterling, but Kick It Out insisted his announcement on Tuesday had nothing to do with the incident and its fallout.
Football Association chairman Greg Clarke paid tribute to the work of Ouseley, having come in for criticism from the Kick it Out boss for not speaking out in the immediate aftermath of the Sterling incident.
“Herman’s tireless work in the pursuit of equality and fairness in football is something we can all take inspiration from. His efforts have encouraged many to follow a similar path,” Clarke said in a statement.
The English Football League also praised Ouseley’s achievements with the organisation.
“The EFL would like to thank Lord Herman Ouseley for his 25 years contribution as founder and chair of Kick it Out,” a statement read.
“Much has changed in the 25 years since Kick it Out was established and together with the EFL, its clubs and stakeholders across the game significant strides have been made in tackling discrimination, with our work in this area being broader than ever before and supporting a diverse football community that is reflective of modern day society.
“As ever, more remains to be done and Herman has often helped us take our work forward.”
Ouseley reflected on the success of Kick It Out and says the organisation will continue to work to reduce discrimination in the game.
He added: “When I set up the Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football in 1993, I hoped that the football authorities would take it on board and tackle the problem. It proved to be a long haul with a slow process of change in pursuit of equality, inclusion and cohesion.
“Recent progress across the game in pursuing equalities for all is offset by the wider society afflictions of prejudice and hatred from which football cannot escape.
“Kick It Out is well positioned with excellent staff to keep the momentum of activity afloat in helping football to be a powerhouse for equality, inclusion and diversity. It is also well positioned to continue its excellent work in helping to prepare the next generation of players for the diversity of cultures in the game and to handle all inequalities, discrimination and prejudice.
“There is so much to be done before I sign off next year, so onwards with the action while I prepare to hang up my boots.”