It is no secret that racism has been an abhorrent part of football for ages. Though a number of measures have been taken to ameliorate the situation over the past three decades, there still exists a key indicator which corroborates the fact that racism in football is still omnipresent.
The football model followed in the United Kingdom certainly testifies to this – There are barely any dark-skinned coaches or managers employed at the highest levels of football. The Premier League doesn’t have any dark-skinned individual in the managerial role and if one digs deep till the fourth tier of English football, one would notice the paucity of dark-skinned managers or coaches altogether.
There is a plethora of reasons why this might be the case, however, no reason is compelling enough to convince fans across the globe that this is a case of nothing but sheer discrimination.
Out of the 92 association teams in the four tiers of English football, only two, at present have a dark-skinned manager at the helm. Keith Curle of Carlisle United and Chris Hughton of Brighton and Hove Albion are the only two dark-skinned managers in English football right now. The Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) group has raised their concern over the years but in vain. The numbers are as consistent as ever.
Studies have revealed that the credentials of these footballers hailing from the BME community are often questioned by the football clubs who are recruiting them. It is seen, however, that over 35 black coaches in England have their badges and the requisite qualification to coach at the highest level of football in the country yet they don’t get any opportunities.
Often in their job interviews they are asked about their previous experiences and because these dark-skinned coaches are not even given a start at any level, they are denied a job stating lack of prior experience. Consequently, they fall victim to this infelicitous cycle.
A number of footballers who have paid their dues on the football field and have all the necessary badges, give up their dream of being in the game as a result of the ordeal the BME groups are subjected to. The exasperation one has to go through is way too demotivating for some and when they choose to give up, their lack of interest is often highlighted, which, however, isn’t veracious.
Another aspect which hinders these dark-skinned former players from becoming coaches and managers is a popular belief that dark-skinned people aren’t essentially intelligent and don’t have the acumen needed to perform the required duties; that they are only about sheer physicality and do not have the brains to perform the job which requires more tactical insights than pure physique.
It’s surprising and disgusting at the same time to listen to these notions as I can’t help but wonder, how footballers like John Barnes, Andy Cole, Paul Ince or a Sol Campbell could outdo their opponents on the football pitch, but can’t help young players develop their knowledge.
It goes to testify the Victorian squeamishness which still seems to run deep in the mindset of the people in the hierarchy. The situation is even worse in the leagues of Scotland, Ireland and it is not much different in the footballing paradigm of other European heavyweights like Spain, Italy or Germany.
Former Arsenal player, Paul Davis, who was one of the first dark-skinned Englishman to gain reputation as a footballer in the 1970s, studied and gained the FA and Pro UEFA Coaching awards, the highest coaching award in the U.K. along with his UEFA ‘A’ Licence and the FA Diploma in Football Management from Warwick University. He won coach educators awards but never got a job at the highest level to coach a team, let alone the opportunity to be a manager.
In an interview, Davis claimed that when he started out as a player there existed a myth that dark players could not play in all positions and could only be used in roles which required more strength than technique. Even after all these years, myths and misconceptions continue to vitiate the careers of many.
Also read about :- Victims of campus racism in Kolkata
A player is never told that that he didn’t get hired for his colour but the players do realise the presence of racism in football in every nook and corner of the boardroom. After Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink was sacked by Queens Park Rangers in December 2016, Port Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite revealed that he had rejected Hasselbaink for the vacant managerial position at his club in 2014, out of fear that racist elements of their support would abuse him.
To deal with the discrepancy, many are in favour of the introduction of something like NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires a club to assess and evaluate at least one candidate from the minor community. Though the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has encouraged the sanction of such a norm, the governing body of English football is yet to commit themselves to refrain such discriminations from occurring further.
Racism is among the many serious issues which continue to trouble mankind in general. In today’s age, it’s a shame that the sport which is hailed as the “the beautiful game” has such levels of bias involved in it. Hundreds of dark-skinned players have enthralled football fans over the decades and there is no perpetual reason why the same set of people cannot make use of their intelligence to run football teams.