Background information and didactical perspective

Football brings athletes and fans together around the world. Yet football and violence often form an inseparable pair in many stadiums. For this reason, football is a great place to start in encouraging awareness, tolerance, and respect toward different societal groups. Commercials from FIFA and UEFA advocating for diversity serve to introduce the problem. To gain a deeper understanding of the situation, a different regional and cultural perspective from further afield is introduced, holding a discussion on the predicament facing a Canadian Sikh football player and the conflict surrounding his turban. Homophobia is also a big problem in football. Thoughts on different ways to combat homophobia and to increase tolerance in football clubs complete this instruction module.

Learning outcomes

  • Become aware of and understand discrimination; get to know forms of discrimination in football (knowledge)
  • Put oneself in the shoes and perspective of someone else; interpret the actions of others through the lens of their life situation and background (social competency, analytical competency)
  • Name competing interests; express one’s own position concerning ethnic conflicts (analytical competency, competency in discernment and judgement)
  • Develop and reflect upon one’s own position concerning political as well as social circumstances and information (competency in discernment and judgement)
  • Understanding of main features of individual religions in their uniqueness and demonstrate sympathy for newcomers and outsiders (knowledge, social competency)
  • Get to know ways to take action in advocating for tolerance and respect toward different religions, cultures, and sexual orientations; air conflict nonviolently and engage with one another respectfully (behavioral competency, social competency
  • Gather information independently and process this information with the help of given questions (methodological competency)
Topics / National curriculum
Human and community; discrimination, violence, and tolerance; meaning and significance of religion for individual and society
  • Play
Suitable age 14-16
Time frame 3 x 45 min.
Required materials smartphones/computer with internet access for students; computer with internet access and attached projector; white board; computer workstations or mobile terminals;
Description In this module, diversity in football is viewed as an opportunity for mutual understanding, tolerance, and respect, but also as a possible source of conflict.
Subjects / Topics Ethics/Religion Social Studies/Civic Education

Lesson plan


  • A = Activity
  • D = Discussion
  • GW = Group work
  • IW = Individual work
  • HW = Homework
  • PW = Partnerwork
  • PTS = Previous Teacher’s Study
  • PO = Pupils opinions
  • PP = Pupil’s presentations
  • TP = Teacher’s presentation


Phase Content Media, Material

(10 min.)

  • D
  • Based on the analysis of video clips, pupils reflect the topics diversity, tolerance and respect, using the example of football.
  • Step 1 The teacher moderates a discussion on opportunities and conflicts concerning cultural and religious diversity in football.
  • Step 2 To get started:
    • Where do you see/experience cooperation between different cultures and religions in football?
    • Which effects does this diversity have?
    • How and where might problems occur?
    • What causes them?
    • How are they dealt with?

Analysis and response
(35 min.)

  • GW
  • A
  • Step 1 The teacher makes small groups of 3-5 pupils. The teacher shows clips from UEFA and FIFA: Respect, No to racism, Anti-discrimination - Religion. Pupils share their initial thoughts about each video.
  • Step 2 Task
    • How are tolerance and respect encouraged/promoted in these videos? The small groups select one video about which to draft a short response concerning the topic “tolerance and respect in football”.
  • Step 3 Leading questions:
    • How is diversity understood in the video?
    • How are respect and tolerance expressed?
    • What is the main message of these videos?
  • Step 4 One person per group is responsible for putting the text online and emailing reference of having done this to the instructor.
Video “UEFA Campaign ‘Respect’”
Video “UEFA Campaign ‘No to Racism’”
Video “FIFA Campaign ‘Anti-discrimination – Religion’”
Phase Content Media, Material

Individual text work
(10 min.)

  • A
  • Pupils expand their knowledge of the dimension of religious diversity.
  • They reflect different positions on a conflict and form their own judgment.
  • Step 1 Students read the text A turban on the playing field.
  • Step 2 They decide whether or not players should be allowed to or prohibited from wearing a turban.
Worksheet “Controversy surrounding a ‘turban’ on the playing field”

(35 min.)

  • A
  • GW
  • PP
  • D
  • Step 1 Pupils vote on the question, “Turban, yes or no?”.
  • Step 2 They form a “no” group and a “yes” group and collect arguments within their group for their respective positions.
    The teacher should take care that the positions are not too unequally distributed. If necessary, the teacher should ask some pupils to join the other group.
  • Step 3 Pupils discuss the question all together, following the ping-pong rule in their discussion: Each time a pupil talks, the next person to speak is a pupil from the other group.
  • Step 4 One pupil is selected to record the arguments that have been introduced on the board.
  • Step 5 Following the discussion, the groups discuss the opposing side’s arguments.
  • Step 6 To get started:
    • Which argument do you find especially important?
    • Which argument made you think?
  • Step 7 The class votes again and discusses the result.
  • Step 8 To get started:
    • What got you to change or to not change your mind?
    • If your mind was not changed, which arguments worked to strengthen your opinion?
  • Step 9 After the discussion, the teacher may introduce the arguments provided by FIFA for its decision to allow head coverings also for men, as of 2014. The rule change was based on a two-year test-phase and the resulting lack of support found for any cosmetic restrictions (for example, head coverings must be kept black or the primary color of the jersey; may not pose any danger, for example, due to a fastening mechanism). Also, discrimination against men via unequal treatment with relation to women could be counteracted.
Additional material
  • white board
Phase Content Media, Material

Going in depth
(25 min.)

  • TP
  • PO
  • D
  • Pupils engage with the issue of homophobia in football.
  • They develop options for action for dealing with homophobia.
  • Step 1 The teacher explains that people are not only discriminated against on the basis of their gender or sex but also on the basis of their age, their beliefs, or their national origin. People who live out a sexual orientation or gender identity, either in the open or in secret, that does not align with majority norms are faced with discrimination and hostility. This includes people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersexual (LSBTI). Sport is an arena which lends itself to demonstrations of strength and masculinity on the part of men. Many men regard football as a male preserve and see homosexuality as a threat to the sport's perceived masculine character. Homophobia occurs at a range of levels in football, in both the amateur and professional game, among fans, managers and coaches, and club executives.
  • Step 2 The teacher now facilitates a class discussion on homophobia in football.
  • Step 3 Questions to initiate and stimulate discussion:
    • Do you think homophobia in football is a minor, marginal issue, or do you think it’s widespread?
    • How does homophobia manifest in football?
    • What problems does this cause?
    • What can we do to combat homophobia in football?

(20 min.)

  • GW
  • PP
  • Step 1 What can we do to combat homophobia in football?
  • Step 2 The groups work together on Worksheet 2 (Material 5).
  • Step 3 The groups present their work in two stages:
    • Each group conducts a detailed presentation of its dossier, with the remaining groups adding information they think has been left out.
    • After this, the groups compile the information they found during their internet research.
Worksheet “Internet research on sexual and gender diversity”