24 Aug 2020

Nationwide partners with The FA to help restart grassroots football with mutual respect

  • Nationwide strikes three-year deal to help The FA expand successful Respect campaign
  • Initiative seeks to ensure a positive and enjoyable football environment for young people by promoting respect between players, coaches, referees and spectators
  • Partnership comes as 71% of Brits say disrespect in UK has grown over last two years
  • Nationwide pledges to help The FA engage 1m parents and coaches
  • Jordan Pickford and John Barnes surprise grassroots club to help launch partnership

Nationwide Building Society today makes a stand for a better society as it signs a three-year partnership to support The Football Association’s Respect campaign – a grassroots football initiative reinforcing the importance of mutual respect on and off the pitch.

Britain’s biggest building society is committed to investing in and improving communities across the UK and hopes that it can use its position as a mutual organisation owned by its members and one of the UK’s largest financial services providers to enhance The FA’s campaign.

The FA’s Respect campaign aims to advise parents and coaches on their roles in creating a fun, safe and inclusive environment for everyone. Respect codes of conduct are in place to ensure that everyone involved within an FA Charter Standard club or league is playing their part to give the players a positive experience.

Research from Nationwide shows that the UK is experiencing increased levels of disrespect, with 66% of Brits saying levels have become unacceptable and 71% feeling that the problem has got worse in the last two years. Nationwide has pledged to ensure that 1 million players, parents and coaches engage with The FA Respect programme over the next 3 years to help build a more mutually respectful society both on and off the pitch.

The partnership is being announced at a time when The FA, working with the Government, has been able to announce that a return to outdoor competitive grassroots football is now possible. However, this should only take place if accompanied by the introduction of hygiene and safety measures, which are in line with Government guidelines, to reduce the possibility of the transmission of COVID 19. As a not-for-profit organisation, The FA relies on support from commercial partners to facilitate participation at every level. While the focus of this new partnership will be to increase levels of mutual respect within the game and wider society, it is hoped that the investment being made by Nationwide will be felt throughout grassroots football in additional ways via work done by The FA.

To help tackle the issue of abuse in society, 80% of people believe those in the public eye are responsible for setting a good example in terms of being more respectful. Almost two-thirds (63%) of people believe footballers should set an example by showing respect on the pitch, so to kick off the partnership, England Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Three Lions legend John Barnes surprised a grassroots club who thought they were there for an FA Respect training session.

Sara Bennison, Nationwide Chief Marketing Officer, said: “2020 has not been the year any of us expected. So much distress. But we have also had a sharp reminder of how dependent on each other we all are. Fostering greater mutual respect becomes more important than ever. The FA have demonstrated such a great commitment to this at a grassroots level and we are delighted to be able to help them expand their Respect programme”

James Kendall, Director of Football Development at The FA, said: “Over the years The FA’s Respect campaign has championed the importance of mutual respect on and off the football pitch most particularly amongst young people. We have worked hard to provide players with the guidance and confidence to act in this way; the same is true for parents, referees and the communities they play within.

It is so good then that we can work with partners such as Nationwide who understand the positive impact football can have on society and share our determination to improve the game.

As we restart the grassroots game it is important to take the opportunity to reaffirm the values that are crucial for the wellbeing of Football – Respect and anti-discrimination are core to that.”

Kathryn Swarbrick, Commercial and Marketing Director at The FA, said: “Together with Nationwide we have identified a common purpose which aims to change behaviours in the game through The FA Respect programme. It’s critical that we continue to support clubs and teams across the country, to ensure that football is a positive and welcoming environment for all.

“A clear purpose now underpins the majority of our partnerships, as we look to invest in initiatives which are making a real difference to football, in both the short and long term. It’s great to welcome Nationwide back as a partner and we are looking forward to seeing the impact that we’re able to create together, to ensure football a fun and inclusive experience for all involved”

In addition to The FA Respect partnership, Nationwide has also signed deals with the Football Association of Wales, Scottish Football Association and Irish Football Association so that every UK home nation is supported.