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SPORTS AGENDA: BBC staff member blasts the broadcaster as ‘f***ing racist’

The furore over the BBC’s use of the n-word has spread to the sport department, with one outraged worker sending an explosive, expletive-laden email to all staff and bosses.

Director-general Tony Hall apologised and said a mistake was made when the broadcaster used the slur in a news report about a racist attack, a move which attracted more than 18,000 complaints.

Initially, the BBC had stood by the decision, saying that the victim’s family had supported the use of the word. That prompted more fury from both inside and outside the building, with Radio 1Xtra DJ Sideman, real name David Whitely, quitting the station over the row.

And Sports Agenda has been told that a BBC Sport worker subsequently sent an impassioned message to staff and top brass, including the director-general, entitled: ‘The BBC is f*****g racist — some words on my decision to quit the BBC diversity steering group.’

The lengthy message made the point in the strongest possible terms that offence at the uncensored swear words in the email should not be taken because the BBC had deemed it fit to use the most offensive word of them all — adding that it had given white colleagues ‘the right to go around shouting n***** in my face or down a Zoom screen’.

The staff member also wrote: ‘If I had the financial means I would quit the BBC completely.’ One insider explained: ‘It’s caused a huge storm and is the talk of the department. I am not sure that management knows how to react.’

A BBC spokesperson said: ‘We wouldn’t comment on internal staff matters but as the Director General explained a week ago, the BBC accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of the Points West broadcast and we are very sorry for that. Tony Hall has been quite clear that we will now be strengthening our guidance on offensive language and that is absolutely what we are doing’ 

Jose Mourinho is a man invigorated, according to Tottenham insiders. The Spurs boss is said to have even taken chairman Daniel Levy aback with his enthusiasm. 

‘He was on good form last season but he’s come back on another level,’ said one source. ‘He is throwing himself into training sessions and those who have known him for a while say it is like seeing the Jose from the Porto days back again.’

The unexpected victory of the tax man against talkSPORT presenter and comedy writer Paul Hawksbee has sent shockwaves through the industry. Hawksbee, half of the excellent Hawksbee and Jacobs afternoon show, was ordered to pay HMRC around £145,000 after they overturned a previous tribunal decision from last year when he had successfully challenged his deemed private contractor status.

Dozens of other people at organisations, including the BBC, are on similar contracts and are panicking that they will be the next to be targeted.

The tales of woe within rugby continue with the news that Harlequins made a large number of backroom staff redundant last week. Other clubs are likely to have to take similar action. 

Unsuccessful applicants to the post of performance director at UK Athletics may have been perturbed to see chief executive Joanna Coates tweet a picture of herself and successful candidate Sara Symington wrapped in an embrace within an hour of the announcement. 

The pair worked together at England Netball and the snap was taken after the team won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Coates captioned the picture: ‘This is what it felt like when we achieved what some people said was impossible. I look forward to more moments like this in our athletics journey.’

According to HR experts those who missed out — including Steve Paulding, who had the role on an interim basis — would be within their rights to question UK Sport over the perceived fairness of the recruitment process.

In 2018 after 3 years of giving our lives to a sport as CEO and PD this is what it felt like when we achieved what some people said was impossible. I look forward to more moments like this in our athletics journey https://t.co/o0mm0slzWw pic.twitter.com/CZFQzVGxPO

Initial plans for England’s meet-up at St George’s Park ahead of the two Nations League games in Iceland and Denmark were for two separate bubbles — one for the senior squad and one for the Under 21 squad. 

Gareth Southgate therefore faced the prospect of not being able to take anyone from the Under 21 squad to train with the senior group as a recognition of their efforts.

Southgate likes to give high performing youngsters a taste of life with the seniors and — following further discussions — just one bubble will now be used, which ensures the England boss will be able to carry on with his reward scheme.

Concerns at Sky Sports that Martin Tyler will not be permitted to commentate on the forthcoming Premier League season have been allayed.

Given that the mainstay is 75 next month, he is classed as vulnerable, according to the top flight’s coronavirus protocols.

For Project Restart matches Tyler was allowed to sign a special waiver, which allowed him to enter the bubbles around stadiums. It has now been confirmed that a similar agreement has been reached for the new campaign.

The Football Association must be confident that the pandemic is likely to ease considerably over the coming 12 months.

A press conference for new England Women manager Sarina Wiegman, who does not take over from Phil Neville until September next year, bizarrely took place last week — when it was revealed that the current Netherlands boss would not be moving to England full-time for the role. 

Given that the press conference should have been at Wembley but had to be done remotely, one has to wonder if that optimism is well-placed.

The FA has seen an upsurge in the number of clubs using St George’s Park, with many choosing not to leave these shores for pre-season training camps for obvious reasons. 

Barnsley and Peterborough have already made use of the facilities. West Brom are also due for a stay, while nearby Burton will be back in the building. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s decision to go to Austria has raised eyebrows across the top flight.

Not everyone will be sad to see the departure of Julie Harrington after it was announced earlier this month that she will be leaving her role as chief executive of British Cycling to go to the British Horseracing Authority.

Last year, The Pedal Club had to write a letter of apology to Harrington after member and former British Cycling president Tony Doyle made some scathing remarks during a vote of thanks following a dinner at which she had spoken.

Doyle was, however, unrepentant when contacted by Sports Agenda.

‘What I said turned out to be right,’ he insisted. ‘At a time like this, with the pandemic, the ongoing Richard Freeman trial and HSBC ending their sponsorship, strong leadership was needed — not someone who jumps ship after picking up £1million in three years without even seeing an Olympic cycle through.’ 

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