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FA tackles diversity shortfall with new rules

London (AFP) – At least one candidate from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background will be interviewed for future roles within the England set-up, the FA said Tuesday, laying out its response to issues thrown up by the Eni Aluko affair.

Chief executive Martin Glenn revealed the Football Association will adopt its own version of the “Rooney Rule” as the governing body confirmed its plans for the year.

Glenn said the rule will be implemented whenever the FA comes to choose Gareth Southgate’s successor as manager of the men’s team.

Football League clubs introduced their own version of the rule — named after NFL diversity committee chairman Dan Rooney — on January 1, and Glenn believes it is the duty of the FA to set an example.

In November, the Sports People’s Think Tank said 22 of 482 coaching roles in the top four divisions were held by BAME coaches. 

“I think the Rooney Rule on its own isn’t enough,” said Glenn.

“All the other programmes about building the pipeline of talented young BAME coaches is also important at the same time.” 

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

Former England women’s head coach Mark Sampson, no longer in his post, was found to have made racist remarks to England women’s players Aluko and Drew Spence in an inquiry that concluded in October. 

Capped 102 times, Aluko has not played for England since alleging bullying and discrimination in 2016. 

“She (Eni) was asked and this is a sport-wide issue,” Glenn added.

“We consulted with UK Sport and they were delighted to work with us. How can elite players in a programme make a complaint and not jeopardise their place. 

“UK Sport specifically asked to talk to Eni and she made some very useful suggestions which have largely been incorporated.” 

Asked about the review of the culture surrounding the England women’s team, Glenn added: “I think culturally what women will be prepared to put up with has been a bit different from guys. I guess banter would be a case in point. 

“Now our grievance and whistle-blowing procedures are common across men’s and women’s teams. Our coaching guidelines are common across men’s and women’s teams.” 

The FA also announced a major increase in grassroots funding and several initiatives to boost diversity throughout the game.

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