Following Liverpool’s victory at White Heart Lane against Tottenham in May of 2008, in which former Ukrainian international Andriy Voronin and Premier League legend Fernando Torres found themselves on the scoresheet, many fans in the stadium and around the country would not realise that this fixture would be the last Premier League game refereed by a member of the BAME community, Uriah Rennie, one of England’s first elite level black referees.

Since Rennie’s departure from refereeing and almost fourteen years later, the official Premier League list of referees states the names of forty officials; all of whom are white. This blatantly obvious lack of diversity therefore must be questioned, with football as a whole in the past decade developing so far, in terms of style of play and inclusivity.

Many onlookers to the game believe that this lack of BAME referees is caused, unfortunately, by racial bias and racism itself, externally and internally within the FA decision making panel. With the introduction of taking the knee, a gesture intended to highlight the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, in the three recent seasons of the Premier League, and some lower divisions, has brought the topic of racism to the forefront of English football, and rightly so. The ‘beautiful game’ is still vulnerable to the racial abuse of fans, but also internal racial abuse, as proven by the lack of progression of BAME referees at grassroots level compared to white officials.

A report numbering over fifty pages, courtesy of the BAME Referee Support group, has criticised the Football association who oversee the promotion of referees for their racism in decision making. This document encloses reports of abhorrent racial abuse and bias towards officials of the BAME community, indicating a major cause in the lack of elite level Black, Asian and Mixed Ethnicity referees in English football.

In such a modern age of football, where the Premier League has expressed its desire to include and incorporate all members of society into the English game, this obvious absence of non-white referees must be solved. Unfortunately, as mentioned, racism adorns each and every level of football, whether that be from the fans, or from the Association itself, and until such flaws are rooted out and dealt with properly, the Premier League will struggle to progress with modern times.