Increasing the knowledge and understanding of ‘lived experience’ of racism and racial inequalities will be at the heart of a major new plan launched this week by the five sports councils of the UK.

UK Sport, Sport England, sportscotland, Sport Wales, and Sport Northern Ireland are responsible for investing in and growing sport across the UK, and their chief executives have been working together to create a plan that will develop a sporting system which is more reflective and representative of modern society.

A first phase of work will track data on race and ethnicity in sport to identify gaps and make recommendations, while the second involves creating an opportunity to hear lived experiences of inequalities by offering people a safe space to tell their stories.

Both phases of the work are a result of the recognition that not enough has been done to effectively tackle racism and barriers to participation and inclusion in sport faced by people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, as well as from other protected characteristics.

Antoinette McKeown, CEO of Sport Northern Ireland, said: “Northern Ireland is no stranger to the power of sport. In Northern Ireland, we have learned from other ‘ism’; sectarianism, that sport can heal, unite and build trust across communities and groups. It is past time that we use this rich experience to address racism in a more systemic way.” Read more.

Sport Wales chief executive Sarah Powell added: “We have stated that we want Wales to be an active nation were everyone can have a lifelong enjoyment of sport and to ensure that sport is inclusive and provides a great experience for all. We won’t get close to achieving this without facing up to the uncomfortable truth that, despite our good intentions, we haven’t done enough to confront the racism and inequality that exists throughout sport in Wales from community sport to boardroom.” Read more.

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, commented: “Recent events across the world have provided new impetus to look again at the significant ethnicity gap in leadership and participation that exists in sport. That should not, however, hide the fact that some of the challenges faced and reasons for it are long standing and deep rooted. Tackling them will demand real leadership and we are determined to play our part alongside the other sports councils.” Read more.

UK Sport CEO Sally Munday said: “Working in partnership as sports councils, we are determined to use our collective power and influence first to listen, better understand and engage on the issues of racism and racial inequality that exist in our sector – then drive the change we need to see.” Read more.

The councils’ chief executives will continue to meet to discuss this work, including tracking progress and discussing both shared and unique challenges. A full report and set of recommendations will be made within six months on both pieces of work.

Sport England also announced that it is planning to audit the diversity of leadership within sport, and have begun the first joint review of the Code for Sports Governance – looking especially at elements of the code that support equality, diversity and inclusion.

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