Held yesterday (20 January), the summit was attended by delegates from, among other organisations, the FA, Premier League, Football League, Professional Footballers’ Association, Kick It Out, Sports People’s Think Tank and Show Racism the Red Card and discussed measures to tackle the problem, including the possibility of introducing a version of the ‘Rooney Rule’ in English football.
The ‘Rooney Rule’ was establish in 2003 in the United States to ensure that minority coaches would be considered for high-level coaching positions. It requires National Football League teams to interview candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds for coaching and senior football operation jobs.
Ahead of the meeting, the sports minister said: “We want there to be more BME [black and ethnic minority] coaches and managers, more administrators and more on football clubs’ boards.
“This meeting will take stock of where we are, what has been achieved, and what remains to be done – and clearly a lot more still needs to be done.”
A Fare and Sports People’s Think Tank report launched in 2014 identified that only 19 ethnic minority coaches are employed in 552 positions across 92 professional clubs, just 3.4% of the roles available.
The FA diversity chief Heather Rabbatts said that the governing body has already started projects to address the issue, such as a training initiative aimed at providing minority coaches with the opportunity to gain experience within the England national team set-up.
She said: “It is a major issue, that we all have to focus on and prioritise. Why is it the case? It’s very hard to sum up in a single line.
“But I think football has been what we might call a ‘closed-system’ and we need to open it up and make much more transparent how people are recruited. And I don’t think that’s just about managers and coaches, I think it’s across all the different roles in football.”
In November, the Premier League announced it is to finance a scheme that every year will see six of 23 coach apprentice places reserved for coaches from BME backgrounds, with a further three places given to female coaches.