Sport in the UK

Part of Social Security – in the House of Commons at 7:18 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 7:18 pm, 4th February 2019

My hon. Friend has made an important point. When sport is being led by the question of who has the best doctor, it is likely that we have a problem.

People need to feel that it is safe to take part in sport, and ensuring that children and those at risk are protected as much as possible is a top priority for me. I have been speaking to my ministerial colleagues in the Ministry of Justice about putting sports coaches in a position of trust to give additional protection to 16 and 17-year-olds, and that work continues. We need to inspire children to take part in sport, to make them feel welcome, and to let them have fun. That golden thread runs through all that we do.

As we have heard, if we do not get this right over time, it will affect our love for our sport. It will affect those who take part in it, and also those who watch it. There are huge benefits to be had from watching live sport. London 2012 showcased to the world the UK’s enthusiasm for that, and we see it week in, week out in our sporting fixtures and at our local sporting clubs. Today our sports grounds attract a wider and more diverse range of spectators than ever before, and it is important for those experiences to be enjoyable and safe for all who attend. I know that many of my colleagues are interested in stadium safety and the long-standing commitment to an all-seater policy. I am expecting a report reviewing existing evidence on that topic very soon, and, along with the Secretary of State, I will consider its findings carefully.

As a new sports Minister considering the experience of attending football matches, I have been immediately struck by the racist and other discriminatory behaviour that has been reported over the last few months. I am sure that all Members have been alarmed by the worrying number of incidents about which we have all been hearing. We can take heart, because people feel more confident about reporting such experiences, but we must not tolerate a return to the worst days of sport. Football is the national game, which people of all ages and from all backgrounds should be able to enjoy and play. It should bring people together, not foster division. Those involved in abuse are not football fans; they are using football as a cloak for discriminatory and often criminal behaviour. They are not welcome in our stadiums. In the coming weeks, I will bring together football authorities and other organisations with an interest in the issue to discuss what action must be taken to stamp out all forms of discrimination at sports events. Together, we must find a way of tackling such unacceptable behaviour.