SJA vice-chair Leon Mann awarded MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

SJA vice-chair Leon Man, a TV and film-maker,  has been awarded an MBE in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his work highlighting the lack of diversity in sports journalism. He hopes his award will help open more doors.

Leon Mann started the Black Collective of Media in Sport (BCOMS) in 2008 in a London hotel with just nine other people.

The organisation has had the backing of sport stars such as Sir Lewis Hamilton, David Beckham and Dina Asher-Smith and is going from strength to strength.

The 41-year-old from London said: “We still have a lot of work ahead of us and leaders in the industry acknowledge this.

“Now is the time for radical action. I hope I can use this award to help open more doors.”

Mann, who has worked for the BBC and ITV, pointed to the World Cup in 2018 as an example of how ethnic minority groups and women were under-represented in the industry.

He said of the 63 sports reporters sent to Russia from the UK’s national newspapers, only one journalist was black and only three were women.

“When we met in that hotel, we discussed the stark lack of diversity we saw in our profession,” said Mann, who is also the vice-chair of the Sports Journalists’ Association.

“We wanted to change things, to make sure we had a sports media that was representative of our country. The issue wasn’t on the agenda back in 2008. We have changed that but our mission is still the same and we are determined to achieve our aim.”