The extremely grave and recurrent incidences of racism, discrimination and abuse in Sport, most recently highlighted by the ongoing reports of racism in English Cricket, as well as of abuse and harassment complaints in several other global sports, including hockey, gymnastics, football, skating and swimming, has compelled the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) to go on public record to express its deep concerns regarding the existing state of governance in Sport. It appears that, to date, risk management and PR is being prioritised over real reform to effectively prevent and erradicate such practices from the industry.
The deep-rooted insidious culture of discrimination – as exemplified by the recent case facing Yorkshire County Cricket Club – is entirely unacceptable! The fact that incidences are still being reported, covering a prolonged period of time, is far from surprising anyone, as depressing as this statement is to make. The increasing number of cases that are being reported by the media, from cricket to football to hockey – of which recent scandals facing the NWSL and Hockey Canada are other examples – support the conclusion that the current levels of governance throughout Sport require significant and immediate reform. The era of PR management, placeholder solutions and the self-certification of governance standards needs to end.
Cases of racism, sexual, psychological and physical abuse and discrimination, of any kind, must be eliminated from Sport! They are tarnishing Sports’ reputation and its credibility. They risk driving youth, fans, sponsors and investors further away and undermining Sport’s future. Those involved must be dealt with appropriately and timely. Full stop! Internal reviews, retrospectively formed, self-governed committees, or the like to repair abusive or discriminatory cultures are, in this day and age, entirely inadequate.
In line with the unanimous position of our Standing Committee on Gender, Race, Diversity and Inclusion (GRID), SIGA condemns, in the strongest possible terms, all manifestations of racism, abuse and discrimination, and advocates for proactive measures – notably the adoption of the SIGA Universal Standards on Sport Integrity across all of Sport –, as it is only through the implementation of such Universal Standards and its independent scrutiny that meaningful change will occur.
Earlier this year, the 2020 edition of the SIGA Universal Standards on Good Governance in Sport were updated to consecrate higher standards in terms of diversity and inclusion, including unconscious bias training and gender equity on the board, just to name two examples. In addition, the SIGA Universal Standards on Youth Development and Protection in Sport have been subject to extensive consultation, and will be approved and come into force early next year.
Against this background, we invite all sports organisations to adopt the SIGA Universal Standards on Sport Integrity and implement SIRVS. In addition to this, we encourage all other stakeholders of the sports ecosystem to assume their responsibilities, play their part and #StandwithSIGA against racism, abuse and discrimination in Sport; and against all other outcomes associated with poor governance, lack of transparency and accountability.
The entire sports-related landscape can do this by joining SIGA and adding to the critical mass that are ushering Sport into a new era through SIRVS.