(Reuters) – It is not the responsibility of elite athletes to fix the issue of racism in sport and the heads of governing bodies must study the true extent of the problem to find solutions, Sport England board member Chris Grant said.
Professional sportpersons including Lewis Hamilton and Raheem Sterling have become leading voices in the anti-racism movement amid protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in police custody in Minneapolis.
Former England women’s soccer player Eniola Aluko told Sky Sports that soccer could lead the way in dealing with the menace and urged the game’s European governing body UEFA to “come down really hard on racism” to prevent incidents.
“These problems have grown up quietly over decades,” Grant, a senior black administrator in British sport, told the BBC.
“I salute Raheem, I salute Eniola Aluko and Alice Dearing, who’ll be our first black swimmer hopefully at Tokyo (Olympic Games) next year, for standing up and speaking out.
“At the same time, it’s not their job to fix this and that’s why I have written to the chairs of UK Sport and Sport England asking them to work with other leaders in sport to see the real extent of these problems and to fix them.
“… You can’t fix the system by dealing with things one at a time. I’m suggesting a commission which will take a historic perspective, will look at the roots of inequalities in sport… and will hear the experiences from grassroots up.”
The BBC reported that UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger had agreed to discuss the matter.
“We acknowledge that, sadly, racial inequalities still exist and we’re determined to do everything in our power to eradicate it,” Grainger told the BBC.
“Sally Munday (UK Sport chief executive) and I have arranged to meet with Chris to discuss this important issue.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge