Discriminatory language on the soccer field is as old as the sport itself. And there have been various attempts to combat it for just as long. Now the KickIn! presented an approach that has never existed before. “Language Kick” is the name of the latest idea from the association for inclusion and diversity in football, in which many fan clubs and football clubs from the Bundesliga to amateur football are members. It is supported by the German Football Association (DFB), the German Football League (DFL) and Aktion Mensch.
At the core of the website is the function “How do I say it better?”, which uses practical examples to show how one’s own use of language can be made more inclusive. Divided into four main topics, the guidelines describe a number of formulations that correspond to common rhetoric on soccer fields in the republic – but are also discriminatory and therefore require alternatives.
For example, under the category “Gender & Sexual Orientation” it can be found that the exclamation “What a gay passport!” is discriminatory because it equates homosexuality with poor performance. The proposed alternative: “Whoa, what a lousy pass” – that would explain the underground quality of the pass without discrimination and still sufficiently.
You don’t “master” a disability – you live with it
But the portal also contains very basic information, which is not only helpful for football fans from the federal to the district league. For example, numerous formulations are listed under the heading “Disability & Age” which indicate that, for example, “the disabled” is better described as “people with disabilities”. Or that one does not “master” a disability, but simply “lives with the disability”.
Now some football fans may dismiss such small detailed questions in annoyed manner – but it is precisely this small linguistic precision that makes a big difference in the perception of those affected, as project manager Daniela Wurbs found out in the development of “Language Kick”. “The associations immediately condemn the severe linguistic offenses, which is of course correct. But there is also a broad gray area apart from black and white,” says Wurbs.
That is why she and her team have coordinated intensive detailed work with those affected in order to be able to shed some light on this gray area. Creating the website took more than a year. The project manager herself knows that “Language Kick” is not the last word.
The project wants to offer guidance – and hopes for multipliers in stadiums
“We’re targeting those who want to do better on their own and have a basic awareness of their language. We don’t want to be language police either, we just want to offer guidance,” explains Wurbs and hopes that their readers will act as multipliers in the stadium appear. It can hardly be assumed that loudmouths who yell discriminatory insults on the football field will later call up the “Language Kick” website in the quiet room to check how they could have expressed themselves better: “My wish would be that the clubs carry the content of SprachKick into the stadiums and display it on the screens, for example.”
Celia Sasic, the newly elected DFB Vice President for Equality and Diversity, is supporting the project. “If we want football for everyone, we have to speak a common language. With each other, but also about each other,” says Sasic, who, as a former soccer player, knows the effects of all kinds of discriminatory attacks.
The importance of “Language Kick” can also be measured by the other prominent advocates the project was able to win. Leon Goretzka, Gerald Asamoah or Thomas Hitzlsperger can be quoted on the project page. And also someone who has always had something to contribute to the major social debates in football. “I can really scold in the stadium, even without devaluing people,” says Ewald Lienen.