English football has been rocked by yet another racism scandal after black and Asian referees exposed the extent of abuse and prejudice which they say is holding them back.
A file compiled by the match officials and consulted by the Observer, alleges that racism in the Football Association’s refereeing system undermines the efforts of blacks and Asians to reach the highest levels of the game.
The diversity report submitted to the FA contains racist comments allegedly made by observers who assess referees for promotion to higher leagues. The FA is now facing calls for an urgent investigation.
Tony Burnett, chief executive of the anti-racist charity Kick It Out, said: “The lack of diversity in officiating is our biggest failure in football. Blacks and Asians fail to become elite referees.
An investigation of the Observer reveals:
A report presented to the FA highlights allegations of racism among observers who mark referees for promotion. An observer reportedly told a referee, “You can all run fast, but that’s all you’re good for. “
The lower levels of the arbitration system have been dubbed by some ethnic minority arbitrators the “graveyard of the black man” because of allegations that a small number of white evaluators prevent them from reaching the highest levels. students.
There are no black or Asian referees officiating in the Premier League or the Championship. There are only four referees from ethnic minorities who officiate in the country’s top seven divisions.
The FA’s 14-member referee committee, which is tasked with improving the diversity of the 24,500 referees, does not have black or Asian representatives.
A 2015 FA report on diversity in refereeing, Widening the Net, set a target of 10% of its referees from ethnic minorities. The FA claims that ethnic minorities among referees fell from around 4% in 2015 to around 8%.
Joel Mannix, president of the Black, Asian and Mixed Heritage Ethnicity (BAME) Referee Support Group and one of the highest ranked black referees in the country, said: “You have racist observers and they mark the officials on their color. said reforms should focus on representation, recruitment and retention.
The group submitted a diversity report to the FA last year that detailed alleged racist comments from observers. He compiled the report of ethnic minority referees to show the racial discrimination faced by some referees. The report presented a road map for reform. The referee support group BAME now wants the FA to publish a detailed breakdown of the number of ethnic minority referees officiating in the different divisions.
The Observer understands that the referees also compiled evidence about an observer, including video footage seen by the newspaper, who allegedly made racist comments.
FA officials said they were not commenting on individual allegations, but would “investigate all alleged incidents of discrimination.” and Irish arbitrators as an ethnic minority group. The FA confirmed last week that all referees who were not “of white British descent” were registered in the ethnic minority figures.
There are around 24,500 referees in England, most of whom referee Sunday amateur football. While amateur referees can earn just £ 25 per match, professional referees can earn over £ 100,000.
Campaigners say that while the football world will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the FA Cup next year, it will also serve as a reminder that in its history no black or Asian referee has ever officiated in the tournament final.
The FA said an equality task force is working on recommendations on recruiting, retaining, supporting and developing umpires from all backgrounds. It is also updating its diversity numbers and was unable to provide a detailed breakdown of its current numbers.
A spokesperson said: “We remain committed to ensuring that the diversity of those who play, coach, referee and direct English football truly reflects our modern society. In this context, as part of the national gaming strategy 2018-2021, for the first time we have set objectives for inclusion in the whole game. “