In Brief

Can the ‘Rooney Rule’ reduce racism in football?

FA hopes to shed damaging image of a game ‘run by white men’ with new diversity initiatives

The English Football Association (FA) will tackle institutional racism in football by interviewing at least one candidate from an ethic minority for all jobs in the England set-up - including manager.

 In an attempt to increase inclusivity in the game, the FA will adopt the so-called Rooney Rule which, in the US, requires NFL teams to interview black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates for head coaching and other senior roles.

Named after the late Dan Rooney, the former owner of American football team the Pittsburgh Steelers, the policy has spread to sports around the world.

“It comes in the wake of an extremely damaging six months for the image of the governing body,” says The Guardian.  An investigation by an independent barrister found former England women’s head coach Mark Sampson guilty of making “discriminatory remarks on the grounds of race”. Even more damaging was criticism of how the original complaints by Chelsea player Eniola Aluko had been handled by the FA.

FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn, who was grilled by MPs about the FA’s culture and faced calls to resign after the Sampson inquiry, told Sky News: “The commitment to the Rooney Rule is about bringing to life our ambition to make the people that run football and manage football, they should look - in mine and the FA's view - more like the people that play football today.”

Glenn, who has admitted the FA is too male, white and old, insisted a series of new initiatives and investments announced yesterday aimed at increasing grassroots funding and boosting diversity would have a “significant impact” on both the organisation itself and English football.

The reforms, “billed as the most wide-ranging cultural changes at the FA since it was founded in 1863, are designed to shed the damaging image of the game as a sport run by white men”, says the London Evening Standard.

They include new targets for levels of representation of women and people from BAME backgrounds throughout the organisation from the ruling council and board down to all national coaching groups. 

The diversity problem was laid bare by recent analysis from the FA which found there are currently just five BAME coaches across the 92 football league clubs.

However, things may be slowly changing. English Football League clubs introduced their own version of the Rooney Rule on 1 January and the same measure has been applied to roles in their academies since June, says The Independent.

Alongside their headline announcement, the FA also outlined a new programme to improve whistle-blowing procedures following the Sampson controversy.

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