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Tackling Racism & Racial Inequality in Sport Update

UK Sport

5 min read Partner content

In the six months since the last update on progress and actions in response to the Tackling Racism and Racial Inequality in Sport (TRARIIS) review, extreme incidents of racism in sport have continued to remind us of the importance of the work we are doing to tackle racism and eradicate racial discrimination from the sporting system.

After speaking out about the racism that he said was “rife” in the RFU, former England rugby union player Luther Burrell was inundated with messages from parents confirming that their children were also the victims of racism at age-group level. In front of the Department for Culture Media and Sport Committee in December, Lord Patel – who has since announced his resignation as Chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club – detailed the racist abuse he had received since taking charge in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

These incidents – and many others that occur and go unreported – not only highlight the scale of abuse and discrimination faced by individuals within sport but serve as a constant reminder of the importance and urgency of tackling racism and addressing the findings of the TRARIIS review.

As the five Sports Councils responsible for funding sport and physical activity across the United Kingdom, we are unwavering in our stance that racism has no place in sport and that we will do all in our power to stamp out racial discrimination, abuse and prejudice.

Key themes:

Following the publication of the TRARIIS review in June 2021, the five Sports Councils committed to regularly reporting publicly on progress.

In our last update in July 2022, we reported on our collective focus on gathering more comprehensive and consistent EDI across the sporting system in order to ensure that we have a clear and coherent baseline upon which we can monitor and measure progress.

Our own data holdings are improving but remain patchy. Through a process of engagement with our funded partners we are gaining a clearer understanding of the difficulties in collating and analysing data, including gaps in capacity or expertise, GDPR concerns and inadequate tools, databases and reporting mechanisms.
As the five Sports Councils we have provided and will continue to provide practical support and, where necessary, extra funding in order to help our partners understand and address the barriers to improved representation of athletes, staff, volunteers and supporters.

For a detailed summary of the activity that each Sports Council has undertaken since July, please click here

TACKLING RACISM AND RACIAL INEQUALITY IN SPORT UPDATE

Highlights include:

  • A new approach to procurement at UK Sport, with EDI (and sustainability) requirements embedded into procurement processes to improve supplier diversity
  • The embedding of race equality best practice in Sport England’s new operating model ensuring an anti-racist lens is applied to the implementation of their organisational activities.
  • Sport Wales’s changes to its recruitment practices to guarantee interviews for ethnically diverse candidates who meet the essential criteria for a role, and recruitment of an EDI Manager for the organisation 
  • sportscotland’s new partnership with UK-wide race discrimination charity Sporting Equals as part of an ongoing commitment to tackling race inequality. The partnership will develop an inclusive leadership programme and the sport workforce and drive forward progress across organisations 
  • Sport Northern Ireland’s review of 31 funded governing bodies’ Equality Diversity and Inclusion policies, identifying areas to improve policies, supporting governing bodies in publicly demonstrating their commitment to improving equality, diversity and inclusion and promoting best practice across sports.

Stakeholders

One of the lessons from TRARIIS was the need to co-create solutions with those communities who have experienced racism, discrimination, abuse and exclusion when engaging with or participating in sport. We therefore hugely value the ongoing close collaboration with the TRARIIS stakeholder group, compromised of some of the individuals who shared their lived experience in the original #TellYourStory survey.

We invited them to comment on the work undertaken to date:

Audrey Livingston, British triathlon coach/mentor/technical official, said:

“There is the old saying - you have to see it to be it. I like to think that by being involved with TRARIIS that the reverse of this statement is true: "you have to be it so others can see it". My input matters and makes a difference; I feel like I am being heard truly, really listened to and I am proud to be a part of change.”

Nana Badu, CEO of BADU Sports, said:

“TRARIIS has been integral in supporting the sports councils to develop a long term approach that systemically supports black communities within sports and physical activity, to build a more equitable playing field for all.

“It’s vital for sports councils to move away from forming a risk averse mindset when working with black communities. This includes trusting grassroots organisations to lead and not be viewed as a risk, but more a vital progression towards the solution. 

“This begins with ensuring that diversity of leadership in national governing bodies is not inherently tokenistic.

“To ensure the progression of tangible action, I’d like to see more leaders from the sports councils represented in these critical conversations, to ensure that our working group and TRARIIS does not become tokenistic within itself.” 

Next steps:

The five Sports Councils will continue to be transparent and open about the work we are doing and the progress we are making, so that we can be held to account for delivery and achieving change.

This includes plans to host a symposium later this year to mark two years since the publication of the TRARIIS review. Further details will be shared in due course, alongside the publication of the next progress report in summer 2023.

Whilst we acknowledge the scale of change that is required and share a concern at the pace of progress, we are also encouraged by evidence of raised awareness and action against racism across our funded partners.

As a collective, we remain steadfastly determined to continue to drive transformational change to tackle racism and racial inequality in sport across the UK.

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