Spirit of 2012 has today announced a grant of £46,270 to independent think tank British Future to fund research on the role of football clubs in creating community cohesion.

Shared Goals will explore how football clubs can harness their fans’ feelings of pride and togetherness to promote integration across divides and build shared place-based identities. The aim is to map the cultural reach and resonance of football clubs across different ethnic, faith and social groups, exploring what works in uniting people of different backgrounds around their love of a particular team.

Partnering with two clubs, it will then co-design a messaging campaign in two study locations to apply the findings practically – testing how spectator football can be used in different local contexts to reach and connect otherwise divided, disconnected and segregated communities.

Research began in February 2022 and will last through to September 2023 when a report will be published and presented to Parliament.

In a year where people are looking forward to major sporting events including the Women’s Euros and the Men’s World Cup, the aim behind Shared Goals is to utilise football’s broad appeal to drive social connection in communities and demonstrate that clubs can play a central role in defusing local tensions.

Amy Finch, Head of Policy and Influencing at Spirit of 2012 said:

“As we approach the 10th anniversary of the London 2012 Games, we are more aware than ever of the power of events and sport to create powerful, lasting change in communities. The excitement of supporting a local football team, through the highs and the lows, is shared across social divides

We are delighted to be working with British Future and eager to learn more about how football can bring people together.”


Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future said:

“The power of sport to promote social connection has long been underestimated. Football in particular has an extraordinary resonance for millions of people, shaping our conversations about identity and belonging.

The Shared Goals project is an exciting opportunity to explore the potential of club football to break down ‘them and us’ divides and build a ‘new us’ identity for towns and cities across Britain. We’re grateful for the support from Spirit of 2012 to help us understand how to harness people’s passion for their club to promote inclusion and tackle prejudice.”


Further information:

Shared Goals project page