Are You Seeing Comfortably?

An image illustrating the way people with colour-blindness might perceive colour

Look around you. Statistically one in 12 men and one in 200 women will be colour blind. Perhaps you are? Or maybe your son/daughter – or someone who came with you to the game?

Being colour blind can significantly affect your enjoyment of football – whether as player, referee, coach or spectator. Imagine not being able to differentiate between the kit of your team and the opposition? Whether playing, officiating, coaching or watching, the whole experience can become extremely challenging.

In conjunction with Colour Blind Awareness (CBA) and UEFA, The FA has taken the lead in addressing the issue on behalf of the game. It has published comprehensive guidance notes to help ensure those in leadership roles do not make decisions which adversely affect colour-blind people. For example, when selecting colours for playing kits, training equipment, signage and marketing materials, such as websites and posters.

The guidance notes can be accessed at www.TheFA.com/colourblindness

As far as playing the game goes, who knows what talent has been lost to the game? As Kathryn Albany-Ward, the founder of Colour Blind Awareness, says: “Young colour-blind people will understandably be put off the game if they can’t follow instructions in training or identify their teammates.”

This point is emphasised by Dr Marisa Rodriguez-Carmona, from the division of Optometry and Visual Science, School of Health Sciences, City University of London: “Given colour blindness affects one in 12 males, statistically every male squad will contain at least one colour-blind player. “

Just take a look at the pictures below – they are a snapshot of what colour-blind people see. If your visual experience was the one on the right, you’d find it difficult – if not impossible – to enjoy football, whether playing or training. Similar problems can arise with many different colour combinations.

Among professional players who had to cope with colour blindness is Matt Holland, who reveals:  “In one particular match when we were in red and the opposition were in dark green I couldn't tell the colours apart. I had to really concentrate by looking at socks because they were easier for me to distinguish. There was nothing else I could do.”

Peter Gilliéron, Chairman of the UEFA Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee is fully behind The FA’s push to create awareness of the issue and ensure no-one is excluded from enjoying the greatest global game: “Addressing the problem of colour blindness in football is long overdue. UEFA fully supports The FA’s work in this area. We intend to use its blueprint to advise the other 54 UEFA member associations on this important issue.”

The thought of exclusion is one taken up by FA chief executive Martin Glenn: “Our national game should welcome everyone.  Age, religion, race, gender, ability/disability or sexual orientation – it really doesn’t matter. The FA has obtained advice from a leading expert in the field, confirming that colour blindness should be treated as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Any club which does not recognise colour blindness as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 therefore does so at their own risk.”

To find out more, please read The FA’s guidance notes on colour blindness. For ways you can help maximise awareness, please visit the Colour Blind Awareness website: www.colourblindawareness.org   

Together, let’s make sure football’s future is ‘For All’.