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Football accused of 'institutional racism' over lack of black managers

media QPR technical director Chris Ramsey has said "institutional racism" remains a problem in football Rueters/John Sibley

Pressure is growing on English football to increase the number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) coaches in the sport, after former Queens Park Rangers manager Chris Ramsey accused it of being "institutionally racist".

"We know the balance needs to be addressed at some stage," Ramsey told Sky Sports news debate programme on Tuesday.

Figures published last week show that less than five percent of senior coaches at professional clubs in England are from BAME backgrounds and only 10 of those work at first-team level.

Ramsey, one of England's first black managers, has blamed this dearth on "institutional racism".

Despite black and Asian footballers constituting almost 30 percent of players, there remains just a handful of non-white managers across the 92 league clubs.

"All football recognises this is an issue," Roisin Wood, Chief Executive Officer of football's equality and inclusion organisation, Kick It Out, told RFI.

Rooney rule

Football authorities are being urged to introduce a mandatory interviewing rule,  known as the Rooney Rule, used in the National Football League.

It would require clubs to interview minority ethnic candidates for head coaching jobs.

The FA recently announced a 1.2-million-euro investment over the next five years, to get more aspiring coaches from BAME communities into the licenced coaching system, at the elite level, but Woods argues there's "still a lot to do".

"We speak to a lot of black players who've given up on the game," she says.

Most feel "there's no point in getting qualified, there's no point in going forward because [they're] not going to get a job. So it's about trying to make the whole recruitment process as open and transparent as possible."

Level playing field

The English Football League has been trying to reduce the disparity and last year made it mandatory at academy level for their 72 clubs to interview at least one BAME candidate for vacant coach roles.

"It's not about giving people jobs they're not qualified for," insists Woods, who rejects the positive discrimination card.

"It's about giving that level playing field, so that the best person gets the job. But if you don't even feel you're on the level playing field or you don't even have a chance, why would you even apply for a job if you don't feel it's a transparent process?"

One of the ways of building confidence is ensuring that there are sufficient role models reckons Woods.

"Chris Ramsey is a prime example," she says, of the former football player turned coach and now technical director.

"You want more of reaching out into local grassroots communities to make sure that the young diverse coaches that may be in the grassroots parts of the game are now getting a chance to go into the academy side of the game, which then leaves them the chance of getting into the elite level," she says, on the gap between black players going from playing to coaching.

"We want to be able to say that as a young BAME coach that I feel there's a role for me in football, that I have an opportunity to progress, and I think that's what's really important," Woods added.

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