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‘Confronting the ugly truth’: sports pledge to do more to combat racism and inequality

Equestrian governing bodies are among those pledging their commitment to tackling inequality, as the sporting sector admits “we have not done enough”.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance this week has stated: “It is time to confront racism and inequality that exists across sport, from grassroots participation through to the boardroom.”

The pledge is signed by bodies from the Rugby Football League to the Lawn Tennis Association, including British Dressage, British Eventing, British Showjumping, the British Horse Society and the Association of British Riding Schools.

“The appalling death of George Floyd, the global protests that have followed and the powerful message of the Black Lives Matter movement has made every section of society take notice and confront an ugly truth,” it reads.

“Sport and recreation has an influential role to bring about meaningful change and this period has rightly led the sector to reflect, listen, question, learn and openly discuss how to take positive action.

“It is time to confront racism and inequality that exists across sport, from grassroots participation through to the boardroom.”

Research carried out by the Sport and Recreation Alliance in 2018 found four in 10 BAME participants have endured a negative experience in sport or physical activity settings, more than double that of white participants.

A report published by Sport England in January, found people from Asian, Black and Chinese backgrounds are more likely to be physically inactive than those who are white.

People from these ethnic groups are also far less likely to volunteer in sport and enjoy the associated benefits.

A 2018/19 report into diversity in sport governance found is only 5% BAME board representation across Sport England and UK Sport-funded organisations.

“Constructive work has already been started to address a number of these problems including a committed effort to increase boardroom diversity, additional funding to tackle inequality and an array of inspiring inclusiveness projects from across the sport and recreation sector,” the pledge states. “This can only be seen as the start.

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“Systemic change must be made at all levels so we can become truly reflective of our wonderfully diverse society. We can no longer rely on Black role models at the elite level speaking out, we must join together to become better and to support every member of the sport and recreation community.

“We must become more inclusive. We must create opportunities that are truly accessible. We must do more.”

The pledge states that a “significant” increase in resources and funding is needed to achieve this.

“There is no easy solution and change will require a consolidated approach both from within and outside of our sector,” the pledge reads. “It is time to face awkward questions, to become involved in uncomfortable conversations and to hold ourselves to account.”

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