Singh: CORE X scheme a timely boost for referee diversity

Legendary former EFL referee Jarnail Singh says the landmark new CORE X programme provides a timely boost for aspring match officials from diverse backgrounds.

Sky Sports broke the news that the Football Association was planning to recruit and retain 1,000 new referees from diverse ethnic backgrounds in the next three years to drastically change the culture of grassroots football as part of its new refereeing strategy.

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Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett reports that the FA are launching an initiative to recruit and retain 1,000 new referees from diverse backgrounds in the next three years.

Now, Sky Sports News can reveal that Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) – the body responsible for appointing match officials in the elite game – will work in partnership with the FA on the CORE X programme which aims to bridge the gap between grassroots and elite refereeing for officials from marginalised communities.

PGMOL launched their Elite Refereeing Development Plan in 2022 – with increasing diverse representation and helping officials from under-represented backgrounds break into the upper echelons of the game – defined as one of the key strategic objectives.

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Listen to audio from match officials, including the VAR, as Virgil van Dijk is shown a red card for his foul on Alexander Isak in Liverpool’s Premier League fixture at Newcastle. PGMOL chief Howard Webb confirming it was the correct decision.

Prospective candidates for the CORE X scheme, which is open until early next week, have to be actively officiating in third or fourth tier of the women’s game, or the third or fourth tier of the National League System in the men’s game (the seventh and eighth divisions of men’s football).

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England’s highest-ranked Black referee, Sam Allison, and the top referee from the South Asian community, Sunny Singh Gill, joined forces to officiate Swindon vs Leyton Orient in a truly wonderful moment for football and refereeing.

Those who are successful in applying will receive technical support and bespoke training programmes – around things like fitness, nutrition and sports psychology – to prepare them for the rigours of the professional game and to help take refereeing forward.

Singh, who is the first and only turbaned Sikh referee in the history of English league football, told Sky Sports News: “This is without question a timely boost for diversity in refereeing, providing a stronger development pathway for aspiring match officials from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

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“Collaboration is key to making the progress that is needed when it comes to improving representation across football, not just refereeing.

“This is a good example of that with the PGMOL and FA Refereeing teaming up once again for the greater good and trying to widen the pool of talented match officials with potential.”

British South Asians in Football

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