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Code of Sports Governance ‘deficient’ on BAME representation, say governing body chiefs

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The government’s Code for Sports Governance, which recommends at least a 30 per cent gender split on sports boards, has not gone far enough with ethnic minority representation, according to two governing body chief executives.

While the UK Sport and Sport England-published document detailed hard a fast targets for female representation, there is no similar requirement for those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals despite the dearth at board level.

Nigel Wood, chief executive of the Rugby Football League (RFL), told Sports Management that the lack of mandatory requirement “may need to be revisited” as “sport lags behind society”.

His views were echoed by Niels de Vos, CEO of UK Athletics.

“I do think there’s one aspect in which the code might be slightly deficient and that’s the BAME representation on boards,” he said.

“I think it’s a really critical thing. Particularly if you look at the people who play sport. Many sports have a very high percentage of BAME participants, so for there to still be this great gap between representation at board level and at grassroots level is, I think, wrong.”

According to statistics published by equality body Sporting Equals, of the 68 leading national governing bodies, 61 had no senior BAME leaders, while only 26 of the 601 board positions were occupied by a BAME individual.

However, Arun Kang, chief executive of Sporting Equals, said it wasn’t the right time for quotas.

“As for the lack of a quota for representation, the sport sector hasn’t exhausted all the other options available yet and going directly for a target setting approach wouldn’t, in my view, be the right way to do it,” he said.

“What we want are individuals coming into the sport sector on merit. We need more people to come into the system organically, rather than plant people in, who may or may not be right for the position."

Requirements of the Code of Sports Governance come into effect from April.

To read Sports Management’s full article on the code, and the consequence of it for national governing bodies, click here.

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The government’s Code for Sports Governance, which recommends at least a 30 per cent gender split on sports boards, has not gone far enough with ethnic minority representation, according to two governing body chief executives.
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Nigel Wood said the lack of hard and fast requirements for BAME representation 'may have to be revisited' / Paul Harding/PA Archive/PA Images
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