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Tackling discrimination in sport: evaluating national strategies and developing grassroots initiatives to increase equality and inclusion for all

Tackling discrimination in sport: evaluating national strategies and developing grassroots initiatives to increase equality and inclusion for all

Each year, people involved in sporting activities, either as spectators or participants, witness or experience discriminatory incidents related to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, disability and religion.


Thu, 02/02/2017


United Kingdom

Currently, 36.7% of people from black and minority (BME) backgrounds play sport at least once a week, yet they still face racial discrimination regularly. In response, the ‘Kick it Out’ campaign aims to work together with football, education and public groups to tackle racism in sport. The organisation has been effective in raising awareness and gaining high profile supporters. Yet, racial discrimination remains prevalent in football with high profile cases in the Premiership. These incidences set important precedents for how we address racism in sport and are negative examples for young people participating in any sport.

Disability is another area where many people face discrimination. Specifically, 17% of disabled people play sports regularly but still face the social challenges of exclusion. Despite the implementation of the Equality Act six years ago and the success of ‘Team GB’ at the London and Rio Olympics’, many disabled people encounter lack of resources and awareness, thus lowering their participation in sport. This year, Hannah Cockroft the British sprint wheelchair champion accused two large sporting brands of discrimination because they declined to sponsor her because she does not wear shoes during her races.

On sexual orientation, according to a BBC survey conducted in 2016, 82% of supporters would have no problem with a homosexual player in their team. Even though this survey highlights definite progress, 8% of football supporters surveyed stated they would stop supporting their team if they had a gay player. The same report stated that 70% of gay men and 73% of lesbians either partially or fully concealed their sexuality while playing youth sport. Even though sport has made definite strides with individuals such as Gareth Thomas and Keegan Hirst coming out and showing how sport can rally around players coming out as gay, the issue remains that individuals are frightened of the impact that coming out may have on their ability to establish friendships and perform. Tackling the problem at a grassroots level is crucial because the insecurities of younger players might hinder their participation due to discrimination

This symposium will offer local authorities, local and national sports organisations, third sector groups and other key stakeholders the opportunity to discuss national strategies, and learn from grassroots initiatives, as well as considering progress, challenges and next steps on how to effectively tackle discrimination in sport.


Delegates will

  • Overcome the challenges of participation in sport for disabled sport – focusing on ensuring access to resources and equipment
  • Learn how to identify and showcase talent, exemplifying the benefits of promoting diversity in sport
  • Gain insights on how to promote social inclusion – Working with schools and amateur teams to promote diversity
  • Receive guidance on how to identify and address incidences of discrimination at all levels
  • Consider ways to increase community cohesion and utilise local sports teams to promote cultural integration
  • Discuss and understand the root causes of discrimination in sport – have the opportunity to develop the tools to tackle the problem
  • Consider ways to further empower organisations that aim to tackle discrimination in sport in their local communities
  • Identify and develop a focus on strong leadership in your local community to help tackle all discrimination
  • Share best practice and hear from colleagues on the most effective ways to overcome discrimination and increase diversity and inclusion in sport

Visit the Public Policy Exchange website to learn more and for information on how to register.

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