Black players demoralised in England, says FIFA vice-president
The head of FIFA’s anti-racism task force says he was left “disheartened” after meeting “demoralised” black and ethnic minority players in England.
Jeffrey Webb said many non-white players felt they did not get chances to move into coaching or management.
He met players including Reading’s Jason Roberts, who has lobbied for more diverse boardrooms in football.
Webb said: “The [English] game must reflect society and the community. It doesn’t do so.”
Reading striker Roberts, 35, has been in consultation with the Professional Footballers’ Association in drawing up plans to ensure qualified ethnic minority coaches are on interview lists for job vacancies.
After Chris Kiwomya left Notts County by mutual consent on Sunday, there are only three black managers in the 92 clubs in the Premier League and Football League despite more than 30% of players being non-white.
FIFA vice-president Webb, who also met Yaya Toure to discuss racial abuse the Manchester City player received against CSKA Moscow, has previously called on English football to “look in the mirror and engage”, given what he believes is a lack of opportunity for black and ethnic minority players in terms of senior coaching, managerial and boardroom positions.
Football Association chairman Greg Dyke faced criticism from his own board earlier this month after a commission set up to improve the England team initially consisted entirely of white men.
Jamaica-born Heather Rabbatts, the FA’s only female board member, said at the time that the opportunity to lead an informed debate on the future of English football had been “singularly damaged”.
Since then, Dyke has added Manchester defender Rio Ferdinand to the commission.
But Webb feels the fact that Ferdinand is the only non-white panel member is a sign that diversity on the pitch is not being reflected off it.
He told BBC Sport: “There’s a lot of young players coming through, I understand that more than 30% of the league is made up of people of African descent and over 71 different nationalities playing in the Premier League. But it’s not reflected, they’re not getting an opportunity.
“And many of them are becoming very demoralised and these are issues of course that we hope the FA will take on and that of the Premier League.”
The lack of black and ethnic minority coaches in the game has prompted the PFA to issue a “ready-list” of qualified former players who they believe can step into vacant coaching positions.
But after what was described as a “breakthrough” meeting between the PFA and Football League chairman Greg Clarke last season, the players’ union has been left disappointed by the failure of the league to discuss its “Coaching Fair Play” initiative with clubs.