Derby County is partnering with Kick It Out and Facebook to launch a programme that will deliver anti-discrimination education directly to fans, focusing on local schools, young people and supporters’ groups.

The programme aims to de-normalise low level discriminatory language and empower silent bystanders to call out discrimination wherever they see it.

The pilot programme, created by HOPE Not Hate, a Charitable Trust that works in the UK to build communities and celebrate shared identities, will be delivered initially through community and fan initiatives.

The England national teams and Sky Bet League 1 side Portsmouth are also backing the programme - and Derby are supporting the project as part of their Stay Safe. Stay Fit. Stay Connected. initiative.

The ambition is to roll the programme out more broadly, reaching millions of fans over the next few years.

Simon Carnall, Head of Community at Derby County Community Trust, said: “We are incredibly proud to be part of a multicultural community here in Derby, and as a Club commit to tackling discrimination in all its forms.

“Individually we all have a responsibility to call out this behaviour when we see or experience it, but done collectively, can hopefully contribute to change. That’s why we are excited to be part of this programme, to help give fans of all ages the ability to take a stand.”

Edleen John, The FA’s International, Corporate Affairs and Co-Partner for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Director, said: “We are committed to delivering a game that is free from discrimination and it is important that everybody plays their part in helping to achieve that. Take A Stand will give fans and others involved in the game the impetus to support us on this journey and tackle this issue head-on.

“We know that discrimination exists in society and often manifests itself through football, and only by working together across the game to drive meaningful change through action, can we truly ensure the game is a safe and enjoyable environment for all."

The activity is part of Take A Stand, a new Kick It Out initiative empowering fans to call out discrimination wherever they see it. Most football fans will have witnessed some form of discrimination in football – on the terraces, in dressing rooms or on social media – but rarely do fans feel they have the confidence to challenge it.

To support the activity delivered directly to fans, Facebook and Kick It Out are also launching a new anti-discrimination toolkit, accessible through an automated Whataspp messaging service. By adding 07432 140 310 to your WhatsApp contacts, and messaging ‘hi’, fans will be sent a menu of educational content and resources from Kick it Out, The FA, HOPE Not Hate and other footballing partners.

This service is an easily accessible way to learn more about tackling discrimination or the ways you can report it.

When fans can safely return to stadiums, a new automated Messenger service will be launched, where people can report matchday discrimination direct to Kick It Out. This report delivers the key information directly to Kick It Out’s reporting team, who can act upon it immediately with the relevant authorities.

This new solution is fan-friendly and avoids the issue of poor quality wi-fi in stadiums.

Steve Hatch, Facebook’s Vice President for Northern Europe says: “Facebook and Instagram are where fans come to connect directly with their favourite players, teams and other fans and we want that to do without discrimination or abuse. We can all do something to take a stand against hate and promote a more inclusive society.

“By equipping fans with the right tools, empowering them with the right education, and raising the level of conversation around discrimination in football, we can create an environment in which silence is replaced by action and play our part in supporting the goals of Kick it Out.”

Sanjay Bhandari, Kick It Out Chair, says: “Our Take A Stand campaign aims to tackle discrimination, but also create a culture where everyone belongs and individuals take personal responsibility for being part of the change. We can all do something to take a stand against hate and promote a more inclusive society.

“Our ambition is to turn bystanders into activists and to crowdsource solutions by capturing pledges of individual action. We want to use those pledges that we receive from the public and organisations, to turn them into insight and make anti-discrimination strategies better informed by understanding more about what people are doing on the ground.

“We know that social media can be a battleground of hate, which is why we’re working closely with Facebook and Twitter to improve that through looking at better regulation and enforcement, as well as updated and new reporting methods.”

Through Take a Stand the ambition is to create a culture where individuals take personal responsibility for being part of the change.

We all need to work together to make a change, and with the right tools, everyone on and off the pitch can Take a Stand against hate and discrimination.