New rules for the face-to-face training have been put in place this season to all players as a result of pressure on the league and the Football Association to act.
Until now, the Premier League had only decided to run workshops for academy and first-team players from under-14s to under-23s.
Content included sexual relationships, seeking consent, and understanding sexual harassment and bullying.
However, such training was not compulsory for all senior professionals, and this reportedly sparked criticism and there are no demands for a widespread reform.
Clubs failing to introduce the new training, to be delivered by safeguarding professionals, will face disciplinary action, reports The Telegraph.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) August 3, 2022
Plans for similar rules in the EFL are under consideration, but to date there has been no move to suspend players arrested on suspicion of rape.
The new rules were put in place after a meeting back in June between the Premier League and campaign groups End Violence for Women, the Three Hijabis and Level Up.
They wrote an open letter to Richard Masters, the league’s chief executive, and Mark Bullingham, his FA counterpart, calling on them “to confront a culture of gender-based violence”.
Shaista Aziz, co-director of the Three Hijabis, said that the FA is ultimately responsible for acting on accusations of sexual offences committed within English football but had yet to engage with the group on the subject.
She said: “We’re pleased to see the Premier League has adopted the action plan we sent in our open letter to them and the FA.
“This is an important first and long overdue step in the right direction. However, we need greater transparency on how this new guidance will be implemented.
“Any programme to tackle gender-based violence must be delivered by Violence Against Women and Girls specialists if it’s to be a meaningful change.
“We’ve had productive meetings with the Premier League on these issues and look forward to meeting again.
“The FA, in contrast, continues to be opaque, out of step, and dismissive in its behaviours towards us. We call on the FA to urgently engage with tackling gender-based violence across football.
Aziz said the new rules had not met all her group’s demands, which include automatic suspensions for any players arrested on suspicion of rape.
She added: “It is inconsistent and inconceivable that, in 2022, you can have a high-profile footballer accused of these very serious crimes and his employer says: ‘It’s OK, he can carry on going to work.’ It’s outrageous.
“The FA can’t just use this moment as another PR and marketing exercise, and spin and gloss, for their attempts to tell us that they’re inclusive. We know they’re not inclusive.”
She went on to claim that she believes the organisation fails to engage with campaign groups who could help “really move things forward”.
An FA spokesman said: “The FA strongly condemns violence and prejudice of any kind, including misogyny, and encourages anyone who has been the subject of, or witness to, this type of behaviour to report it to the Police and the relevant authorities.
“The FA will take the allegations extremely seriously and will take action within its jurisdiction. Any such case would be investigated once any criminal or statutory investigation is concluded.”
The chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Maheta Molango, has also urged for more action to educate players on sexual consent.
‘More needs to be done in terms of the education of the player – sexual consent, what is acceptable, what is not acceptable, and making sure that this is part of their mandatory education,’ he said.
In July 2022, Tottenham Hotspur’s summer signing Yves Bissouma was cleared of sexual assault charges that were filed against him last October, as per a Daily Mail report.
The 25-year-old was part of an ongoing investigation by Sussex police following an incident at a nightclub in Brighton on the 6th of October.
Authorities made it clear that he was released and no further action would be taken against him.
WHAT IS SEXUAL CONSENT?
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 says that someone consents to sexual activity if they:
- Agree by choice and
- Have both the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
If someone says ‘no’ to any kind of sexual activity, they are not agreeing to it.
But, if someone doesn’t say ‘no’ out loud, that doesn’t automatically mean that they have agreed to it either.
Someone doesn’t have the freedom and capacity to agree to sexual activity by choice if:
- They are asleep or unconscious.
- They are drunk or ‘on’ drugs.
- They have been ‘spiked’.
- They are too young.
- They have a mental health disorder or illness that means they are unable to make a choice.
- They are being pressured, bullied, manipulated, tricked or scared into saying ‘yes’.
- The other person is using physical force against them.
If someone’s not sure whether you are giving your consent for something sexual, they should check with you. If they can see or suspect you’re not 100% comfortable or happy with what’s happening between you, they should stop.