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Sol Campbell would 'love to help' football authorities diversify

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Sol Campbell, the former Arsenal and England player, has put himself forward to mobilise football governing bodies to diversify with more black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) people on their boards.

Talking to Sports Management before Sporting Equal's British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSA) 2016 in London, Campbell said he’d “love to help out” in making football’s top table more reflective of the population at large.

“I’d love to help the FA, I’d love to help Fifa, I’d love to help the Premier League,” he said. “I think they have to start opening up and recognising some people. When you look at the big companies and sport associations there’s not much diversity. That has to change - the government has to recognise that and they’re trying to help out.”

Campbell has been a critic of the Football Association’s record on diversity in the past, at one point calling the body “institutionally racist”. Heather Rabbatts is the only member of the organisation’s board who is not a white male, while the three members of the Premier League’s board are all white, although one of the three positions is occupied by a woman – Claudia Arney.

The former defender, who won 73 caps for England, said someone with his outspoken style would be able to shake up the status quo.

“They [governing bodies] don’t want a lapdog who’s not going to say boo to a goose,” said Campbell. “There are people who have their own minds and they understand governance and rules and regulations. You want people who think ahead of the curve and they shouldn’t be scared of that.”

The second annual BEDSA Awards saw Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill win sportsman and sportswoman of the year respectively. Former boxing heavyweight champion Frank Bruno was handed the Lifetime Achievement award.

Gold medal winning heptathlete Denise Lewis said the night was a great way of recognising sporting excellence in the black and ethnic minority communities, although she caveated that the recognition did not go far enough.

“I don’t think there’s enough recognition, but we generally have enough problems with recognition in sport anyway,” Lewis told Sports Management. “That’s why it’s important to have evenings like this.”

Lewis said that while the government’s plans to diversify sports governing bodies and increase participation among BAME individuals – as detailed in its Sporting Future strategy – were “all well and good”, there was a need to have “people on the ground, going into schools and encouraging young people”.

“You can’t expect people to want to do sport if there’s no value or recognition – those are two important ingredients. I think until we address that and we actually get out there then we won’t see the kind of numbers coming through as we would like to.”

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Sol Campbell, the former Arsenal and England player, has put himself forward to mobilise football governing bodies to diversify with more black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) people on their boards.
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Campbell said the football authorities needed people who 'thought ahead of the curve'
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