The issue of racism in the English game this week saw MPs weigh in with their opinions, urging the football authorities to do more to recruit more coaches and referees from ethnic minorities.
The report by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee found that while progress has been made in English football, the FA must do more to combat racism.
The issue found its way to Westminster following the high profile cases last season involving the likes of Luis Suarez, Patrice Evra, John Terry, and Anton Ferdinand. But while the MPs on the select committee may have been ready to give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done, their efforts were called into question by, among others, Piara Powar.
The executive director of European anti-discrimination network FARE claimed that MPs were correct in their call for greater diversity in the game but the report had a glaring omission – direction as to how this should be achieved.
Powar again raised the “Rooney Rule”, championed in certain sections of the media in this country, which originated in the NFL in the US.
The rule ensured that shortlists for any head coach or senior management vacancy have to contain at least one ethnic minority candidate. Norwich City’s Chris Hughton is currently the only non-white manager in the Premier League.
Powar said: “I think the committee has missed an opportunity here. There have been headline issues that English football has experienced over the last year, the Luis Suarez and John Terry cases, and those are very big issues that we need to deal with. But the report had no clear direction on diversity hiring practices.
“We now have less racism in football because people respect the achievements of black players but where is their role in the game as coaches and managers?
“We have a significant Asian population in Britain but where are the Asian players?”
The report called on the FA to bring in a new training programme for stewards at matches, but Powar said that is not the issue.
He added: “The UK has some of the best-trained stewards in the world. I don’t really think that’s the problem. You really do need to look at issues behind the headlines.
“The positive action programmes that exist in the US have made a huge difference and I don’t think the situation in the UK will change until we have some strong action from above of that kind.”
Powar said the programme could be tailored specifically for British football. “There is an opportunity for us to look at what the US does,” he added. “I am not suggesting we replicate it lock, stock and barrel, but to adapt it to English football.”
You can read the full Government report here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmcumeds/89/8902.htm
Tags: Anton Ferdinand, Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), John Terry, Luis Suarez, Patrice Evra, Piara Powar, Racism, RESPECT, Rooney Rule