By Jonathan Hawkins and Becky Anderson, CNN
AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis believes football needs to do more to fight issues such as domestic abuse — not just in society, but also within the game itself.
In the wake of several domestic violence accusations in the English Premier League, including against Manchester United and England star Mason Greenwood, Gazidis says football must challenge the male-dominated culture of the game and be proactive in tackling social issues.
“I do think there’s a lot more we can do,” Gazidis told CNN’s Becky Anderson.
“We can’t ignore the types of issues we see. You know, I’m very vocal about when we have issues we need to own them, we need to acknowledge them, because it’s the only way we’re going to be able to find solutions.”
The 57-year-old Gazidis also believes the sport has a diversity problem that must be tackled at a senior level.
“I think football, in many ways, does reflect the issues in society. But it also has the ability to lead thought in a variety of areas and provide better examples,” he said.
“One of the challenges that football has is that it’s very male dominated. We still see that in leadership positions across the game. And that’s both in the on-field positions, by which I mean, technical staffs, but also off the field.
“People like me, chief executives, and senior management figures. So, I think we would be benefited in so many ways in football to have a more diverse environment.”
Last month, Italy’s Supreme Court confirmed the conviction of former Brazil and AC Milan striker Robinho, who now lives in Brazil and played for the club before Gazidis arrived, to nine years in prison for his involvement in a gang rape in 2013, according to Reuters.
Robinho’s lawyer Franco Moretti told Reuters the verdict was “deeply unfair.”
In recent years, players in Italy’s Serie A have displayed red marks on their cheeks to help raise awareness of domestic violence. They have also taken to social media with the hashtag #unrossoallaviolenza (a red card to violence).
Gazidis became CEO of AC Milan, which has won 18 league titles in Italy, in 2018 having previously been CEO of English Premier League side Arsenal for close to 10 years.
He says he and AC Milan have helped lead the way in promoting this environment with the European Clubs Association.
“We’ve introduced concepts of diversity, inclusion and equity,” said Gazidis.
“And I do think challenging the male dominated way, the cultural environment of football is a huge piece of this, to understanding the issue better and having better ideas to try and solve it.”
He added: “It’s not just this domestic violence and domestic abuse issue, we see a lot of issues across the game that have to be addressed. And you have to be proactive and acknowledge what the issues are before you can really take steps.”
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