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NZ sports bodies to combat discrimination

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 31/05/2016
Steve Tew © Getty Images Steve Tew

New Zealand's major sports bodies have united under principles to encourage greater diversity and inclusion.

Officials from rugby, cricket, soccer, netball, rugby league and hockey will establish a framework of agreed policies and practices by the end of the year to combat prejudice in sport.

A group announcement on Tuesday followed the findings of the first international study on homophobia in sport.

The study found large numbers of gay, lesbian and bisexual people didn't feel welcome in a sports environment.

Eighty per cent of those surveyed - which included respondents in New Zealand - had witnessed or experienced homophobia.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the Out on the Fields research completed in 2015 prompted a sports-led approach to do more to encourage diversity and inclusion.

"We've seen that rugby is not unique in the challenges it faces to be considered truly inclusive in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and ability," Tew said.

"This is about teaming up with other sports to get the message across that everyone should be encouraged and be able to participate and enjoy sport without prejudice."

Sport NZ, High Performance Sport NZ and the NZ Olympic Committee have already established their own integrity frameworks and will support the efforts of the national bodies.

Sport NZ chief executive Peter Miskimmin said sport is a fundamental part of the country's culture with a high participation rate.

He says it is vital to protect that from anything which undermines its integrity.

That doesn't only mean problems at the elite level such as corruption, match-fixing and doping.

Just as important are sideline behaviour, protection of children in sport, good governance and ensuring sport is inclusive, he said.

NZ Football chief executive Andy Martin said the sports involved agreed there is no room for discrimination.

"As well as encouraging greater inclusion across sport, we also want to make it clear that racism, homophobia or any other form of discrimination won't be tolerated."

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