Macbeth, Jessica Louise
Equality issues within partially sighted football in England.
Social and Cultural Diversity in a Sporting World.
Research in the Sociology of Sport, 5
Emerald, Bingley, UK, pp. 65-80.
Developments within disability football in recent years have influenced football opportunities for partially sighted individuals at grassroots and elite levels. These developments centre on increasing influence from the FA who has taken over responsibility at the elite level, with BBS primarily responsible for running the national VI football league. The overall purpose of the chapter is to explore equality issues within partially sighted football. The three underlying aims are to: 1) provide a brief background to recent developments in partially sighted football; 2) analyse player views on a range of equality issues within partially sighted football; and 3) discuss critically the implications for the future of partially sighted football in England. The research adopts a social constructionist approach to disability and prioritises the players’ perspectives. Equality issues are explored using qualitative research methods including desk research, focus groups with the partially sighted England squad in December 2004 and interviews with six players competing in the BBSVIFL between 2005 and 2006. Despite the need for a co-ordinated approach to developing partially sighted football, all players consider the stakeholder to have poor links and relatively divorced objectives. This is exemplified in the nature of recruitment of players to the England Squad, which is considered to be a potentially exclusionary process. Neglect of participation in the BBSVIFL by members of the England squad constitutes a major grievance amongst grassroots players. ‘Imposed’ changes in the format of football in the BBSVIFL is deemed to have the potential to exclude players with poorer levels if sight. The article concludes by suggesting that increasing FA influence has had positive but also potentially detrimental impacts. Equality issues present significant challenges to both stakeholders who are responsible for developing it in a manner that adequately ensures the needs of partially sighted players are taken into account. Key words: disability; social model; equality; partially sighted; football