Discrimination in sport: Government believes there are still too many problems, House of Lords inquiry told

The Government believes there are still “too many problems” of discriminatory behaviour in sport, a House of Lords inquiry has been told.

The National Plan for Sport and Recreation Committee is examining the current state of sport and recreation policy in the UK and intends to publish its findings next year.

The Government said it welcomed recent high-level talks in football, in response to a question from Lord Knight over the need for improved diversity of membership on governing bodies of sporting groups.

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“One of the things we absolutely believe in doing is making sure we talk to these bodies about it,” Ben Dean, Director for Sport and Gambling for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told the committee.

“The Secretary of State [Oliver Dowden], only two weeks ago, held a meeting with all the key senior football partners as well as Kick It Out and some of those involved in tackling racism and homophobia.


“We are still seeing too many problems here, what are you doing? How are you focusing on it? How seriously are you taking it? Certainty in our minds this isn’t a one-off initiative, it’s just bread and butter, it needs to be part of senior conversations at all national governing boards, in all sports where possible.”

Dean said football is attempting to become more inclusive, in response to a question about how the Government is tackling racism, homophobia, misogyny and transphobia in sport at all levels.

“It needs collaboration across a lot of different partners,” Dean told members of the select committee, including Baroness Brady, Baroness Grey-Thompson and Lord Moynihan, during a remote session.

“When it comes to what happens on the terraces, for example, clearly the FA and footballing bodies have a huge amount of work to do there and they must work very closely with the Home Office and the police on that.

“The training that stewards now get on intervening, if they hear racist chanting, and using the much more sophisticated CCTV systems that are now in football stadiums, has been helpful to target that.

“Clearly there have still been cases and what we want to see is sport being very clear about both cracking down on it, when there are individual cases of this happening, but also making sure they create a nice environment for it to be supportive.”

“One of the things football has done is trying to make the sport much more inclusive. When you look at the terraces nowadays, in terms of families turning up, taking their kids, that does create a better atmosphere.

“It does feel like a lot has been done and certainly one of the things we continue to support, this isn’t directly for Government to lead, is where there have also been stories of high-profile sports people coming out as gay, that has been something that we’ve tried to welcome.

“There has been lots of media pick-up on the fact that sport needs to be a more welcoming environment, both off the pitch in the locker rooms, as well as on the pitch.”

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