Rooney Rule work in England?

FA will interview at least one BAME person for future roles

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What is the Rooney Rule, and how will it affect English football?

By Daniel J. McLauglin

On the playing field, football is a diverse sport with players from different background and ethnicities representing their teams across 90 minutes. On the sidelines, however, English football has a problem.

There are only five BAME managers working in England's top four divisions: Northampton's Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Carlisle's Keith Curle, Wolves' Nuno Espirito Santo, Chesterfield's Jack Lester, and Chris Hughton at Brighton and Hove Albion - the latter is the only non-white head coach in the Premier League.

Recent research from the Sports People's Think Tank showed that progress since 2014 has been "minimal" for BAME candidates, and they still face "institutionally embedded barriers". Just 22 of the 482 senior coaching roles in English football's top four divisions are held by BAME coaches.

The Football Association (FA) wants to change this balance. As of 2018, they will start to interview at least one applicant from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background (BAME) for future roles in the England set-up. The coaching positions will range from youth level to the senior teams, for both men and women. The FA has stressed, though, that only those BAME candidates with the relevant qualifications and experience will be considered.

Chief executive Martin Glenn said the move showed the "FA is for all".

He told the BBC: "The FA wants to become a more inclusive organisation where the workforce more represents the people who play football today.

"What it will say is the opportunity to have a career beyond playing is something that the FA is serious about promoting."

When asked if the 'Rooney Rule' would be used to determine the next England boss, Glenn replied: "Absolutely. We are there to set an example. In talking to people at the Premier League and the FA, I don't see any resistance to it.

"I think the Rooney Rule on its own isn't enough. All the other programmes about building the pipeline of talented young BAME coaches is important at the same time."

English Football League clubs introduced their own version of the 'Rooney Rule' on January 1, with the same measure being applied to roles in their academies since last June. The Premier League has yet to adopt the measure, and currently has no plans to follow suit.

The Rooney Rule is named after Dan Rooney, former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former chairman of the NFL's diversity committee. It was a response to the 2002 sackings of the black head coaches Tony Dungy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dennis Green of the Minnesota Vikings. At the time of their dismissals, Dungy had a winning record and Green had lost his first season in a decade. According to the Evening Standard, black coaches were less likely to be hired and more likely to be sacked than their white counterparts. In 2017, the NFL season began with seven African-American head coaches and one Latino - a record.

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