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Exclusive figures show ‘shameful’ diversity in Welsh sporting organisations

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The lack of diversity on sporting boards and organisations in Wales has been described as “shocking” and “shameful”.

It comes as exclusive figures show there are only 19 people from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background out of 765 employees across some of Wales’ biggest sports governing bodies.

Of Wales’ two biggest sports, rugby and football, neither have any board members from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background.

We asked the Football Association of Wales to comment but they declined. The Welsh Rugby Union say they have made progress in increasing opportunities for disability rugby and for women and girls, and have made changes to their management structure, with Colin Charvis sitting as an independent member of the WRU Council.

A spokesperson added “the Welsh Rugby Union fully accepts the importance of making further significant improvements in terms of its inclusiveness at all levels of Welsh rugby” and that they plan to employ consultants in order to identify where they can make improvements. They say “there is a place for everyone in Welsh rugby, with more opportunities than ever to be part of the game at all levels.”

Exclusive data captured by ITV Cymru Wales for Wales This Week has revealed that there are no black people on any of the 17 sporting boards that were investigated, which include the Welsh Rugby Union, Football Association of Wales, Swim Wales and Sport Wales.

The findings have led to criticism from former Wales sporting internationals and diversity organisations.

Former footballer Nathan Blake, who played for Cardiff City and Wales between 1990-2003, told ITV Wales that the “figures speak for themselves”.

Speaking to ITV Wales’ sports reporter Beth Fisher, he said, “You’re telling me in all these years, nobody [from a Black Asian and Minority Ethnic background] has had the intelligence to sit at board level?

“But many have had the ability to compete and win – a trophy, the FA Cup? That shows me there is clear evidence that there is a cut off point to how far they will allow you to travel”.

“As a black man, I’m fed up of the ‘talk talk talk’ – stop saying you’re going to do something or stop talking and just do it.”

Wales This Week spoke to Swim Wales chief executive Fergus Feeney who told the programme that organisations should be investigating further.

“From the top down, we should be asked some serious questions – and at the moment we’re not, and that is the honest truth.

Everyone responsible for the management of sports should take this seriously.”

Mr Feeney, who is also on the board of the Welsh Sports Association, added, “I would say although I am quite proud of what we’ve done in swimming, the question is as a sector, we need to be sorry and look at people in those communities and say, ‘We’ve failed you’.

“This is not good enough. Something needs to change and I believe that is from the top down”.

The findings have been described as “shocking” by race equality organisation Race Council Cymru.

Patience Bentu told the programme, “We never realised those figures were what they were.

“Is it that at management level or at board level there are no ethnic minority people who have knowledge in netball or the other sports? I don’t want to believe that.

She added, “What we really want is these organisations to come out. Be transparent and tell us what it is. If you’re struggling and need us to help you to bring those statistics up, we are happy to do that because that is our job to ensure diversity and equality”.

“The assumption of the ethnic minority communities is that we need to put the question to the sports organisations and ask, if it is not systemic or structural racism, then tell us what it is”.

A spokesperson from Sport Wales said they acknowledge the work they have to do. They say they are completely overhauling the way they work in order to tackle inequality, and that they would welcome the opportunity to work with Race Council Cymru and utilise their expertise.

The spokesperson added “There are already a number of important pieces of work underway to help us move forward. There is a research project underway exploring race in sport. Next week we will start creating opportunities to hear lived experiences of racial inequalities and racism in sport, offering people a safe space to tell their stories. More information will be available next week under #OurStoriesMatter”.

ITV Wales also requested data on the membership of these sporting organisations. We found that either information was incomplete or it was not collected. We are not able to publish any reliable information on the participation in grassroots sports of Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic people.

Wales This Week is on ITV Wales, 7.30pm on Thursday 3rd December.

Rhys Gregory
Editor of Wales247.co.uk

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