'Racist' words and phrases banned by BBC from Match of the Day this season


The BBC has reportedly banned its sports presenters and pundits from using a number of ‘racist’ words and phrases in coverage of the new season.

‘Cakewalk’, ‘nitty gritty’, ‘sold down the river’ and ‘uppity’ are on the list of things on-air personnel must avoid saying, alongside the terms ‘blackballed’, ‘blacklisted’, ‘black mark’ and ‘whiter than white’.

The BBC informed staff of the changes during a webinar centred on ‘avoiding racial bias’, according to the Daily Mail.

Presenters and pundits were also warned not to ‘fall into the trap’ of racially stereotyping black players by describing them as having ‘pace’ and/or ‘power’.

Up to 450 members of staff are believed to have attended the training webinar and the BBC invited participation from rival broadcasters Sky Sports, ITV, BT Sport, Premier League Productions and talkSPORT.

The banned words will be avoided in shows like Match of the Day

Sky’s Jessica Creighton chaired the session and BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand was one of several speakers, while attendees were sent a guide explaining the phrases they should avoid.

The guide showed that West Ham’s Michail Antonio, Wolves‘ Adama Traore and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane have been described as having ‘pace and power’ above all other attributes.

Discussing the phrase, the guide said: “Is there a danger of spreading a perception that black players’ success is purely based on their athleticism and doesn’t require hard work and intelligence?

“Do you need to spend more time thinking about how to explain the variety of reasons for a black player’s success?”

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How else can broadcasters tackle racism in football? Have your say here.

Mane and Traore have been the victims of racial stereotyping

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Elsewhere, alternatives were provided to phrases which have an association with the slave trade or segregation, such as ‘cakewalk’, ‘nitty gritty’, ‘sold down the river’ and ‘uppity’.

The guide also brought up how the use of language can lead to the association of ‘black’ with bad and ‘white’ with good.

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) helped arrange the webinar, which came after a study they commissioned found there was “racial bias” in commentary of European football.

In the wake of the RunRepeat study, PFA Equalities Executive Jason Lee said: “To address the real impact of structural racism, we have to acknowledge and address racial bias.

“This study shows an evident bias in how we describe the attributes of footballers based on their skin colour.

“Commentators help shape the perception we hold of each player, deepening any racial bias already held by the viewer. It’s important to consider how far-reaching those perceptions can be and how they impact footballers even once they finish their playing career.

“If a player has aspirations of becoming a coach/manager, is an unfair advantage given to players that commentators regularly refer to as intelligent and industrious, when those views appear to be a result of racial bias?”

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