During Sky Sports’ Sunday Supplement show there was a big discussion on the current situation with BAME candidates for roles in football. With the current political landscape switching its primary focus to Black Lives Matter after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, discussions about race in football have been brought to the forefront.
What is the Rooney Rule?
The Rooney Rule is an NFL ruling that requires teams to interview ethnic minority candidates for head coaching and senior roles. This was started in America in 2002 in order to make sure African Americans has the same chances as their white counterparts. It was brought over to English football 2016 in order to try and initiate more equal management across the football league.
What was Discussed?
The panel suggested that the Rooney Rule should be strengthened across the EFL and used at boardroom level. Currently there are only six BAME managers that are employed across the 91 league clubs in England. The EFL introduced a ruling at the start of the season that clubs have to interview a BAME candidate for a vacant job. There are, however, loopholes to the rule as it only applies when there is a shortlist of interviewees. This assumes there is a an interview process, however, with this not being obligatory clubs can easily just appoint a manager without the need for such measures.
Some of the statements put forward in the panel discussion were that:
“The Rooney Rule should really be implanted properly across all 91 clubs and then also to have transparency, to have data to show who you’ve interviewed.
“The FA have had a very positive policy recently in having a BAME coach in every single age group for England, from U15s to Gareth Southgate’s senior squad. I don’t see why that can’t be implemented for the 20 teams in the Premier League and possibly Championship. I don’t think it would be a financial problem for that to happen.
“There are only 32 BAME coaches with the UEFA A licence. The LMA have said themselves they want coaches fast tracked for this qualification, to have more black coaches would mean a greater chance of getting a job. So that’s absolutely vital as well – and could happen very easily.”
It was also stated that clubs must be more vigilant with their reactions to racism. Rob Draper, chief football writer for the Mail on Sunday said:
“Clubs will sign up for anti-racism campaigns and they’ll all wear Black Lives Matter next week but when it comes to a player in their club accused of racism, you see the response and it can be quite different.”
He referred to the incidents between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra alongside the one including Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva. Liverpool have come under fire for defending Suarez after he was accused of racially abusing the Manchester United left-back. The team decided to wear t-shirts in support of their Uruguayan forward. This decision was subsequently condemned by former club captain Jamie Carragher. Bernardo Silva also came under a lot of bad press for tweeting out an image comparing Mendy to a black caricature with a design similar to early forms of blackface. While the criticism was actually split on two sides, Pep Guardiola came out and defended Silva for his actions. The FA eventually did sanction Silva but it was for causing offence – not for being racist.
Whether the ruling is strengthened will be a matter for the EFL to work upon. With the lack of current diversity there will be many people hoping for change within the next fews years. In an era of political change this could be another step to reaching equality within sport.