Aluko wants 30% BAME representation at top levels of UK Sport

(Reuters) - Former England soccer international Eniola Aluko has called for an increase in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) racial diversity at the top level of UK Sport to 30%.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women's FA Cup Final - Arsenal vs Chelsea - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - May 5, 2018 Chelsea’s Eniola Aluko celebrates after the match Action Images via Reuters/Tony O'Brien/File Photo

The lack of ethnic minority representation in national sports governing bodies has come to light through the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks.

A report here by The Telegraph newspaper last month said that only three percent of board members of national governing bodies are Black and 64% of these organisations have no BAME members.

“I think we need a target, 30% is a good one,” Aluko, who was named Aston Villa Women’s sporting director in January, told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee.

“Whether owners or directors like it or not, this is what the game needs.

“There has been a lot of progress from when I started playing football 20-plus years ago. There was absolutely no-one I could look to in the game that looked like me, either as a woman or a black woman.

“We are still seeing a glass ceiling to a certain extent. We’ve gone to having great representation on the pitch... but that transition doesn’t necessarily reflect when it goes off the pitch into the boardroom and even in ownership.”

An independent investigation in 2017 ruled that Aluko had been subject to racial discrimination by then England women’s manager Mark Sampson.

The Football Association subsequently apologised to Aluko, who had said the body was “dismissive” when she first claimed Sampson made racist remarks towards her in 2014.

The 33-year-old, who made 102 appearances for England, hopes lessons have been learned from that episode.

“I genuinely would like to believe that if a similar thing happened to another black player in the team today, it would be dealt with much differently,” she said.

“First of all that it wouldn’t happen but I think it would be dealt with much differently and much more independently and without conflict.”

Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar