Nick Benson

OTHER NEWS

As Covid-19 cases increase, Kenyans flee cities, seeking safety

As the coronavirus cases rise in Kenya, many city residents are fleeing to their rural homes, despite a warning from clerics and government officials. Weeks after Covid-19 was first reported, panicking Kenyans - including Catholics - left cities and towns and...

Stranded migrants, lack of food: in Indian lockdown, poor suffer

The three-week Covid-19 lockdown of India's 1.37 billion people has stranded millions of domestic migrant workers and left people scrambling for food and other basics amid the ensuing harsh and often violent crackdown by police. "Especially when I look at my poor...

Pope joins UN call for immediate global cease-fire

Saying conflicts can never be resolved with war, Pope Francis added his support to a UN appeal for a global cease-fire amid the worldwide threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. "May our joint effort against the pandemic lead everyone to recognise our need to strengthen our...

Chaplain urges FA to step in to row over ethnic bar on referees

The Westminster Diocesan Chaplain for Sport has urged the Football Association (FA) to investigate claims that there is a racism issue regarding referees.

Reuben Simon, an ambassador for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) officials at Ref Support UK, said black referees are being stopped from climbing the football league ladder and reaching the upper echelons of English football due to the way they are assessed. He believes this is due to overt racism or unconscious bias.

Mgr Vladimir Felzmann, the Westminster Diocesan Chaplain for Sport, has urged the FA to act on these allegations by first admitting any issue before making any changes to the failing process.

“The primitive tribal slogan and mindset that asserts ‘we are good, others – from other tribes and races, even genders – are enemies and thus bad’ may not be overt but, as a priest, I know it is there, covertly ingrained in many, many hearts,” Mgr Felzmann told The Catholic Universe.

“The first step towards genuine diversity and inclusion is to admit this fact,” he continued. “Then that instinctive bias can be compensated for and overcome.”

“How many Jews, how many Muslims? How many Sikhs are refereeing in the FA leagues and divisions?” Mgr Felzmann asked.

“Probably not a fair reflection of the numbers playing football.”

“Admit the problem, repent – change your thinking – and then we can – and will, move forward.”

Uriah Rennie was the last black referee to officiate in the higher reaches of the English game before retiring in 2009. There are no BAME referees currently working in the top four divisions, and only one in the National League.

“It’s a myth that there’s a lack of black referees – there are loads at grassroots level but they are not progressing up the pyramid,” Mr Simon, a former non-league referee said.

“Why? They are being blocked. There is a ceiling for black referees and it is non-league,” he continued.

“When a footballer is very good it’s obvious and it’s in the manager’s interest to pick them. So even managers with racist views have picked black footballers. But decisions about referees are more subjective.”

Mr Simon, who tweets on refereeing issues at @radical_referee, said that referees who reach the county level must be assessed by observers if they want to climb the ranks.

“These observers will almost always be white chaps of a particular age,” he said.

“Nothing wrong with that and most try to be as fair as possible. But there is also no question there is a lot of unconscious bias.”

Mr Simon said he would suggest using mystery shopper-style “ghost observers” to assess the assessors.

“They should look for assessors who, on average, give black referees worse marks than white refs.

“Let’s check them by sending out a ghost observer to the same games as those assessors who give black refs poor marks – just to make sure.”

Picture: Former top ref Uriah Rennie was the last black referee to reach the top of the football pyramid. (Peter Byrne/PA).

Share

OTHER NEWS

As Covid-19 cases increase, Kenyans flee cities, seeking safety

As the coronavirus cases rise in Kenya, many city residents are fleeing to their rural homes, despite a warning from clerics and government officials. Weeks after Covid-19 was first reported, panicking Kenyans - including Catholics - left cities and towns and...

Stranded migrants, lack of food: in Indian lockdown, poor suffer

The three-week Covid-19 lockdown of India's 1.37 billion people has stranded millions of domestic migrant workers and left people scrambling for food and other basics amid the ensuing harsh and often violent crackdown by police. "Especially when I look at my poor...

Pope joins UN call for immediate global cease-fire

Saying conflicts can never be resolved with war, Pope Francis added his support to a UN appeal for a global cease-fire amid the worldwide threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. "May our joint effort against the pandemic lead everyone to recognise our need to strengthen our...