ONE of English football’s leading racial equality campaigners has questioned how effective the Rooney Rule will be in getting more black, Asian and ethnic managers into management and insisted: ‘We can get there without it.’
Paul Canoville, who was Chelsea’s first ever black player and now works with anti-racism organisation Kick It Out, said he couldn’t understand why there were not more BAME bosses than the five currently working in the game.
That figure is in stark contrast to the playing side, where more than 25% of players are black.
But as the 72 Football League clubs agreed to introduce a modified version of the American Rooney Rule, Canoville suggested it would be impossible to police.
In a scathing attack on the proposals, Canoville, 53, told Tom Latchem on FUBAR Radio: ‘We’ve got some qualified black players that have been through the game and retired with qualifications and coaching badges – why they haven’t been given the chance? It is a [big] question at the moment.
‘How do we know [change] is going to be attained [through the Rooney Rule]? How do we know that’s going to be followed through?
‘Any club can say “Yeah we did that on paper, we did interview them [BAME coaches]”, but how are we going to follow that, how are we going to know that? I don’t know if there’s any point in it.’
Under the proposed English version of the Rooney Rule – named after Dan Rooney, the chairman of Pittsburgh Steelers responsible for the implementation in NFL that one ethnic minority candidate must be on the short list for every job – by the start of the 2016-17 season the Football League want clubs to interview at least one BAME candidate for all youth development roles.
They will also adopt a voluntary recruitment code for first team football under which clubs would commit to interview a BAME candidate for any managerial or coaching position.
Plus they would work with stakeholders to introduce ways of identifying BAME coaches and players with the potential and aspiration to coach in professional football.
But Canoville, who was racially abused by his own fans and even a fellow Chelsea player after signing for the West London club in 1981 but now works in the community for the Premier League Champions, said work was being done behind the scenes to improve the number of BAME managers in the English game.
And the former winger insisted change would come – without the need for a Rooney Rule.
‘We are still knocking on the door and we will continue to do that and they will have to listen,’ he said.
‘This is not something that’s being going on for the last few months, it’s been going on for years now.’
‘Something will come about and hopefully that change will come soon.’
He added: ‘We can deal with this. With the right procedures, with the FA, with FIFA. They respect black coaches for their ability and credentials [is] that’s all we ask.
‘So when [clubs] get a young black lad with all the right credentials who’s ready for management, c’mon, give him a chance.’