A survey looking into racism in British sport has found 83% of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds have experienced discrimination in some form in the sector – with only 8% feeling the problem was resolved to their satisfaction.
The research by Sporting Equals, the UK’s leading charity for racial equality and diversity in sport, also found that while overt racist abuse was still a problem – with 37% saying they had experienced it on the pitch from an opposition player or a teammate – much of it was covert.
The open survey, based on hundreds of responses from players, coaches and administrators within the BAME sports community from grassroots level upwards, found 41% felt they had fewer opportunities than someone from a white background to progress as a player in their sport – while 21% believed they had faced barriers getting into senior positions in sport.
One respondent told the survey: “Having applied for a post at a sporting national governing body I was denied the role after interview for south Asian women’s coordinator. The post was given to a white female, as no south Asian women had applied. I complained and received a reply of ‘Sorry, it was human error’.”
Of those answering the survey, 78% said they wanted better monitoring to ensure equality and diversity policies are implemented effectively. Other suggestions for change included quotas for coaches and staff to bring greater opportunity.
Arun Kang, the chief executive of Sporting Equals, said the research showed it was not enough for the sport sector to have policies in place to prevent racism – those policies had to be monitored for effectiveness and used to establish a culture that did not tolerate racism in the boardroom or on the pitch.
“The issue we are currently dealing with is a society that is systemically racist with sectors that are consciously and/or unconsciously systemically oppressive,” he said. “Systemic oppression occurs when the laws of a body or sector create unequal treatment of a specific social identity group or groups. Is this an issue in the sports sector? Yes. Our recent survey into BAME experiences of racism within the sports sector found that 83% had experiences of racism.”
Last month, Sporting Equals called for all publicly funded sports organisations in Britain to have at least 20% BAME representation on boards after its researchers found only 3% of board members of national governing bodies are black and 64% of funded national governing bodies have no BAME board members.
“There needs to be an encouraged, embraced and enforced disruption of the current state of play within this sector,” said Kang. “We need the sector to commit to changes in culture, policies and practice – once these changes have been implemented, measured and maintained; only then will we see tangible change.
“We encourage anyone from BAME communities to contact us with their experiences of racism within the sports sector by answering and sharing our survey.”
“We will continue to advocate for change, supporting BAME communities and their allies until the change is achieved and maintained.”