CAMPAIGNERS visited Downing Street to help PM David Cameron tackle racism in football.
Bosses from charity Show Racism The Red Card (SRtRC), where ex-Black Cats defender Gary Bennett now works as a coach, were invited to the high-profile summit on discrimination in the game.
They met chiefs from the FA, the Premier League, the Football League and the Professional Footballers’ Association to discuss ways of putting an end to the problem.
The talks follow a number of high-profile incidents, which have seen people arrested for allegedly sending racist abuse on Facebook and Twitter.
Last year, vile racist abuse posted online about Sunderland footballer Fraizer Campbell sparked a police investigation.
The striker was abused by a supporter after posting a jokey comment – or “tweet” – on social networking site Twitter.
A user of the site, under the name TheReid1, is alleged to have posted a racist comment in response to the tweet about the Republic of Ireland’s clash with Estonia.
The Premier League has also been engulfed by allegations of on-field racial abuse involving Chelsea captain John Terry and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.
Kevin Miles, chairman of SRtRC, joined representatives from the football authorities, former players and campaign groups for the meeting with David Cameron, Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Sports minister Hugh Robertson.
“There is no doubt that footballers are role models for young people – the success of our campaign was founded on this,” said Mr Miles.
“Providing training to footballers would be incredibly helpful.
“This would help players in their ability to be anti-racism ambassadors.”
The North East-based organisation has been given support by current and former Black Cats players, including Niall Quinn, Kevin Ball, Seb Larsson and Wes Brown.
Staff from the campaign work closely with schools, using sports stars to deliver anti-racism messages.
“Educating against racism is the purpose of our campaign and something we do very effectively,” said Mr Miles.
“That said, our charity is unable to carry out this vital work without secure funding.”
Meanwhile, staff at the under-threat charity are still facing an anxious wait to see if they have secured Government funding.
The group, which faces a deficit after posting a significant loss last year, expects to be given a decision in the coming days after submitting an application in September.
Chief executive Ged Grebby set up the campaign from his Tyneside home. It now employs 25 staff at offices in North Tyneside, Cardiff, Glasgow and Bedford.
“We were expecting a response sooner, but we hope to hear something within days,” he said.