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Tyldesley says training is needed to correct racial prejudice in commentary

CLIVE TYLDESLEY urged the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) yesterday to help set up racial sensitivity training for co-commentators, after a study found evident bias in how players are described based on the colour of their skin.

The study, conducted by Danish firm RunRepeat in association with the PFA, found 62.6 per cent of praise regarding a player’s intelligence was aimed at those with lighter skin, while 63.33 per cent of criticism of a player’s intelligence was aimed at those with darker skin tones.

The findings also show that 60.4 per cent of praise for work rate was directed at lighter-skinned players.

The study looked at a total 2,073 English-language statements from 80 top-flight matches in England, Italy, Spain and France this season.

As ITV’s main commentator, Tyldesley is one of England’s most recognisable game callers and he says that more training is needed to make those who take up the microphone more aware of what they are saying.

“I’ve written to the PFA today suggesting that we set up some proper training, because co-commentators, ex-players, their members, may well have contributed to the stereotyping in these findings. Most of the opinions and judgements you hear during commentaries come from the co-comms, they don’t come from me, the lead comm,” he said.

Tyldesley warned that preparation is not just about researching how many appearances a player has made.

“I’ve been made aware of the tendency that’s been described in this report at Kick it Out seminars for several years and anything that makes you think about how you commentate is good,” he said.

“I’ve always been mindful of this argument and being mindful is being prepared. You’ve seen how I prepare, but preparation isn’t all about neat writing, or facts and figures; it’s about thinking. Thinking what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it, preferably before you say it. That is what this report is telling us commentators and co-commentators to do and I’m all for that.”

Tyldesley added that the report was the first time he has seen “in-depth analysis of any element of commentary” and made him realise how little feedback he gets beyond often-abusive Twitter mentions.

“Aside from all the cliches and the hype we’re accused of, we do try, or we should try, to use the language accurately and responsibly,” he said.

“Racial stereotypes are not just wrong, morally wrong, they are inaccurate and they are irresponsible. They are lazy, thoughtless, and, in my blown-up opinion, far too much sports commentary is lazy and thoughtless.”

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