In a year when football fans across the UK will come together to watch our national teams compete in the Women’s Euros and the Men’s World Cup, a new project from British Future is set to examine the power of club football to help build social connection and bridge divides.
Shared Goals will explore how football clubs can harness local fans’ feelings of pride and togetherness to promote integration across divides and build shared, place-based identities.
The project aims to harness football’s broad appeal to drive social connection in communities and demonstrate that clubs can play a central role in defusing local tensions.
Research will map the cultural reach and resonance of football clubs across different ethnic, faith and social groups, exploring what works in uniting people of different backgrounds around their love of their local team.
Partnering with two clubs, we will then co-design a messaging campaign in two locations to apply the findings practically – testing how spectator football can be used in different local contexts to reach and connect otherwise divided, disconnected and segregated communities.
Research began in February 2022 and will last through to September 2023 when a report will be published.
Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future said:
“The power of sport to promote social connection has long been underestimated. Football in particular has an extraordinary resonance for millions of people, shaping our conversations about identity and belonging.
“The Shared Goals project is an exciting opportunity to explore the potential of club football to break down ‘them and us’ divides and build a ‘new us’ identity for towns and cities across Britain.
“We’re grateful for the support from Spirit of 2012 to help us understand how to harness people’s passion for their club to promote inclusion and tackle prejudice.”
The project is made possible by funding from Spirit of 2012, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games legacy funder.
Amy Finch, Head of Policy and Influencing at Spirit of 2012 said:
“As we approach the 10th anniversary of the London 2012 Games, we are more aware than ever of the power of events and sport to create powerful, lasting change in communities. The excitement of supporting a local football team, through the highs and the lows, is shared across social divides.
“We are delighted to be working with British Future and eager to learn more about how football can bring people together.”
Spirit of 2012 is the London 2012 Games legacy fund. Spirit awards grants for inclusive arts, sports and volunteering activities in communities that bring people together to improve their wellbeing. The National Lottery Community Fund founded Spirit in 2013 with a £47million endowment to continue and recreate the spirit of pride, positivity and community that inspired people across the UK during the London 2012 Games.
Photo by Danny Molyneux on flickr creative commons