Kick It Out launches cloud-powered anti-abuse app

Football in cloud
Football in cloud

Anti-discrimination football charity turns to Salesforce for instant reporting technology

Kick It Out, the charity dedicated to eradicating racism and homophobia from football, has launched an app to help supporters instantly report incidents during matches.

The app was created in collaboration with cloud-based app maker Make Positive and runs on the Salesforce cloud. It was released as part of a season-long initiative to mark the charity’s 20th anniversary of campaigning against discrimination.

The Kick It Out app, which is available for Apple iOS and Android devices, hopes to encourage football fans to report incidents of abuse, such as racist and homophobic chants against players.

Until now, spectators had to approach stewards directly in person to point out anyone they saw engaging in discriminatory behaviour, but the app - which is based on Salesforce and Heroku's technology - allows them to report in a more discrete way and maintain anonymity if they so wish.

Kick It Out initially approached the foundation, which donates Salesforce technology to non-profit organisations, with the idea of making the reporting app.

Isabel Kelly, international director of the Salesforce Foundation, told Virtual Clouds: “We are keen to get our technology into the hands of those who need it, like Kick It Out. When they came to us, we made the introduction to Make Positive as we felt they would be ideally suited to make the app and they very kindly agreed to do it pro bono.”

Mark Richards, CEO and Founder of Make Positive told Virtual Clouds: “Tackling racism has been a personal passion of mine and the project was also interesting technologically, which is why we decided to get involved.”

From the user’s perspective, the app has two components, Richards explained. The first is a news feed from Kick It Out that is drawn down from the Salesforce platform and delivered to their phone.

The second is the reporting function, which consists of a simple form that they can fill in if they see an incident.

“It includes some intelligence that can make reporting even easier. For example, if someone fills in their details and says they are a Manchester United fan, the app will remember their details and save Old Trafford as their default location,” said Richards.

“Additionally, it uses location data so when a fan chooses to report an incident, it will suggest the stadiums nearest to their current location,” he added.

Wolverhampton Wanderers FC (Wolves) is one of the football clubs that has signed up to the project.

Paul Richards, head of safeguarding at Wolves, told Virtual Clouds: “We have in place anti-racism and anti-homophobic policies, like all clubs, but we needed to be more proactive and be more resilient in the way we dealt with incidents if they were reported to us.”

Richards said that until now the reporting of incidents by other crowd members has been rare, because approaching a steward in front of someone who is hurling abuse can be quite daunting.

Additionally, even if they do choose to report, it is often at the end of the game, when the incident has passed leading to a lag in dealing with problems.

However, with the app, as soon as a user hits send, Richards receives an email alerting him to the fact that racist, homophobic or other abuse has been used, allowing him to deal with it straight away.

“The app really helps underpin our policies and drive abuse out of the game, which is what everyone wants. I am expecting to see a real impact as the season gets underway and I think it will definitely have an impact on problems of racism and homophobia in football at Wolves and beyond. We are delighted to be involved,” Richards said.

Mark Richards also revealed Make Positive is talking to the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) to develop a version of the app for players to report if they have been the subject of abuse or have seen incidents.

The Kick It Out app for fans is available immediately.

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