In June, the five Sports Councils responsible for funding sport and physical activity across the UK, published the outcomes of our joint review into Tackling Racism and Racial Inequality in Sport (TRARIIS).
The review’s findings were based on an extensive analysis of publicly available data on race and ethnicity in sport, as well as research into the lived experiences of more than 300 people.
They made clear that racism and racial inequalities exist in sport in the UK and have resulted in ethnically diverse communities and individuals being consistently disadvantaged, discriminated against, and excluded from sport and physical activity.
In response to these findings, we made clear our determination to learn from the review and do everything in our power to bring about transformational change to stamp out racism in sport; creating a sporting system that is truly inclusive and representative of UK society.
We also committed to work with relevant groups or communities and co-create solutions to deliver real, lasting change and earn their trust. We agreed to work together on five overarching commitments, ensuring these are aligned to our individual strategies and remits, and developing tangible and transparent action plans. These commitments relate to People; Representation; Investment; Systems; and Insights.
The activities currently being undertaken can be found here and include the following:
- We have focused on understanding and processing the TRARIIS findings within our respective organisations and embedding the lessons into existing organisation strategies. Internal engagement has raised the level of awareness of the issues, helping staff identify inequalities and initiate changes in their work to remove barriers, including the way we recruit, how we invest, and who we partner with.
- Sport England has established, and hosts, a working group with participants who shared their stories, and are helping to shape overall thinking around tangible action. The focus has been on working together to identify what can change, and where this can happen within the sporting structures. The group are spending time exploring all the themes, starting with representation, systems and structures. An Insight working group is reviewing the gaps in the analysis relating specifically to children, young people and workforce. The group will share a draft action plan on the themes in early 2022. In addition, Sport England has published a three-year Implementation Plan of its strategy Uniting the Movement which has the tackling of inequalities at its heart, with the actions identified informed by the TRARIIS research.
- Sport Wales has started the process of overhauling the way in which they distribute resource and investment to ensure that it makes a better impact on under‐represented communities. Unmet demand among these communities is the most significant driver for how resource is allocated to national governing bodies and partners. Regional sport bodies are being developed across all areas of Wales to bring those who are better connected to these communities together with the sport sector to strategically examine local offers. And at grass roots level, innovative funding schemes are being influenced by new networks to ensure that funding is more accessible and appealing to ethnically diverse communities, among others. In partnership with AKD Solutions, Sport Wales is also providing an inclusive leadership development programme for partners and its own staff based on the ‘ACE’ model (Allyship; Challenge; Experimentation), which was referenced in AKD’s report as part of the Sports Councils’ review.
- sportscotland has begun identifying TRARIIS work for each of its three Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strands (People, System and New Ideas) in order to embed this into the organisation’s business planning and use to inform future Equality Impact Assessments. Ethnically diverse communities are a priority group for sportscotland’s 2021-25 Equality Outcomes. sportscotland has also announced that it is taking immediate steps to appoint a team of independent experts to carry out a full review of racism with Scottish cricket. Central to this review will be in-depth consultation and engagement with the cricket community, providing individuals with lived experience of racism with a safe space in which to anonymously share their experiences,. Follow-up support, signposting and referral to the relevant authorities, as and where appropriate, will also be provided as part of this process.
- Sport Northern Ireland has increased its executive and management capacity in the area of culture and integrity, establishing a new team with responsibility for this work with governing bodies and partners. It is taking forward a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy which will include more detailed proposed actions on the five commitments which all 5 sports councils have agreed with (People; Representation; Investment; Systems; and Insights). In particular, creating inclusive sporting environments for participants and athletes will be part of the terms and conditions of sport NI future investments with performance monitored against targets agreed. We have established a new policy and insights team to focus on better data and insights capture to chart progress in addressing racism, sectarianism and all forms prejudice in sport here, recognising intersectionality. Given the interplay between racism and sectarianism in sport in NI explored through the TRARIIS “Lived experiences” element of the project undertaken by AKD, Sport NI will be commissioning further research here wo better understand the impact on minority ethnic communities here. Sport Ni has also established a Diversity Panel to inform our policy and practice development and to act as a supportive challenge function to our work in increasing participation in sport from under‐ represented groups. Sport NI is itself undergoing significant transformation, including culture and strategy change with equality and inclusion as key cornerstones. We know as a public body operating in a region still dealing with the legacy of conflict and violence, that we have much work still to do in applying the lessons of the past to ensure a better future for everyone who calls NI home. Sport NI is committed to working with sports to ensure we all play a full part in that journey.
- UK Sport has held deep dive sessions with its staff resulting in an internal action plan which directly feeds into a recently published ‘Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan’, with targeted representation for ethnic diversity and workforce development. It is also working jointly with Sport England on the new requirement set out in the revised Code for Sports Governance, requiring partners in receipt of substantial funding from either Sport Council to publish clear, ambitious, actionable, measurable ‘Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans’ for their leadership and wider organisation, drawing on evidence such as TRARIIS. UK Sport is also finalising options around creating an independent process for complaints (including for handling discriminatory behaviour such as racism), engaging with the other Sports Councils on this.
Whilst activities are underway, we acknowledge that it is too early to say if our efforts are beginning to make a difference. Rather, each Sports Council is starting out by challenging our existing processes, changing the way we think, experimenting with new ways of working and co-creating opportunities with those who we are determined to reach and include.
As set out in June, going forward, we are committed to being accountable and transparent in the progress we are making as well as when we are not. We recognise what is required is cultural change throughout the sport sector, with education, partnership, training and prevention needing to take place at all levels of the sporting system and structures. We also need to be swift in condemning and taking, or calling for, action wherever and whenever racism is encountered.
The personal stories of those who have experienced racism in sport, and the detrimental impact on them, are particularly distressing. Majid Haq revealing that he faced abuse in Scottish cricket was saddening. Azeem Rafiq’s recent testimony was devastating, and shows why there must be zero tolerance of all forms of discrimination. Racism has no place in sport or society.
Sport England have stated discussions continue with funded organisations about how they are taking meaningful action to eradicate racism in their sport. As referenced above, sportscotland are also taking action with the commission of an independent review of Scottish cricket.
As a result, a major priority over the next six months will be to engage with our external partners on the outcomes of the TRARIIS review and the need to deliver action. Systemic change will not take place overnight. All organisations involved in sport and physical activity have a fundamental responsibility and role to play in actively engaging with this work to drive transformational change throughout the system, individually and collectively.
We are determined to ensure that we are all ambitious, transparent and accountable for progress in this area. These steps are essential to ensure that sport and physical activity are truly inclusive and reflective of UK society; and that the sector thrives, is sustainable and fit for the future.
Brian Davies, Acting CEO Sport Wales
Stewart Harris, CEO sportscotland
Tim Hollingsworth, CEO Sport England
Antoinette McKeown, CEO Sport Northern Ireland
Sally Munday, CEO UK Sport
Next date for the TRARIIS update report: Summer 2022