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Anorak | The myth of racism in football and a need to trial The Rooney Rule

The myth of racism in football and a need to trial The Rooney Rule

by | 18th, October 2016

The Daily Mirror’s headline is unequivocal: former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker Dwight Yorke is a victim of racism. The headline states: “YORKE: I’m Being Held Back By Racism.”

 

Jose Mourinho cat

 

To further drum the point home, the Mirror adds: “Wannabe manager Dwight Yorke insists racism is stopping him even getting INTERVIEWS for jobs.”

The story begins:

“You keep hitting a wall, keep constantly not getting anywhere” says ex-Man United star who has the coaching badges but cannot get his foot in the door

That’s a pretty big claim. Football is just about the least racist industry in the UK – a quarter of Premier League playing staff are black. Why should Yorke, discovered by the then Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor on a tour of the West Indies in 1989, think racism is stopping his career?

The Mirror is adamant:

Ex-Manchester United striker Yorke insists racism in football has stopped him and other retired stars breaking into management.

Only racism has prevent Yorke from becoming a manager? No. Reading on we get a qualifier:

He says he has completed his coaching badges but is convinced his colour has played a part in stopping him from building a career in England.

The Mirror did not get the story. It is repackaging Yorke’s words to beIN Sports, in which he said:

“I’m still looking to get in. I’ve done all the coaching badges at St George’s and the one thing I find very difficult, let alone get a job, is to even get an interview. I’m finding it very, very difficult at the moment. Yes, you are doing all your coaching, all your badges, but then when it comes to getting a job, you are not even getting an interview. It’s all about who you know as well, that has to play a role. Despite all my experience of being a player, I’ve never had the experience of being a manager which is a different concept from being a coach.”

So a lack of experience and not knowing the right people are factors in his failure to secure a managerial job.

BeIn Sports not Yorke brought up race. Yorke responded:

When asked whether it was down to his lack of managerial experience or his colour, Yorke replied: “I think there’s a bit of both there. I genuinely think there’s a bit of both. It’s often been discussed, no-one has really taken it up, but I do have a tendency when I speak to everybody, certainly black players who are trying to break into managerial department are coming up against the same concept because of your race.”

There are no black managers in the Premier League. There are, however, many foreign-born managers. Only six of the current crop are British.

Yorke adds:

“You keep constantly hitting a wall, keep constantly not getting anywhere and even with all the noises that I’ve made, I’ve even tried to get in at Villa at this point. What I’m saying is that it would have been nice to just have your thoughts heard.

“OK, maybe you will never get a chance to be a manager but it would be nice to go in there, present yourself, get to know that person and [have them] say, ‘OK, Dwight, we like your concept, but you’re not experienced enough. Go away and do this or do that.'”

It’s hard to comment on York’s efforts to get a managerial job without knowing to which clubs he’s applied. Were Villa ever likely to take on an ex-player with no managerial track record to be their figurehead?

The Indy twists Yorke’s words a little to deliver the headline:

Dwight Yorke says being black is stopping him becoming a manager after missing out on Aston Villa job

To link Aston Villa with racism is absurd and unfair. And it wasn’t simply missing out on the Villa job that shaped his thoughts.

The Indy adds:

Ryan Giggs does not have a large managerial history to fall back on though, and the fact that he was installed as the bookmakers’ favourite for the Swansea job when Francesco Guidolin was sacked does support Yorke’s argument, given he has not been able to secure an interview at clubs in the lower tiers of English football.

Again that’s absurd, too. Giggs didn’t get that job. He tried and failed. Swansea appointed a foreigner. The bookies made Giggs the favourite because, well, he’s Welsh. What other reason was there? Swansea is owned by Americans – and they appointed one of their own. Gary Neville scored his first managerial job at Valencia on the strength of coaching a poor England side and being mates with the Spanish club’s owner.

Worse than that is the hype that misrepresents Yorke, who was circumspect and measured in his words. The tabloid twist makes for sensation. Rather than investigating racism in football’s boardrooms, they could look at racism on what passes for Fleet Street. See any top-flight editors, chairmen of the board, managing editors, new editors and so on?

But Yorke’s views do make us wonder why with so many black players there are so few notable black managers?

Former player turned media pundit Jason Roberts said it was due to “unconscious bias” at best or “possibly racism” at worst.

Cyrille Regis opined: “As a player, it’s tangible. You can hear the racist chants, you can see the bananas on the pitch and you can react to it, but when you are going for jobs and interviews and putting your CVs in, you can’t really tell somebody’s heart where they’re coming from, what prejudices they have inside of them.”

The football league is looking to introduce The Rooney Rule:

The ‘Rooney Rule’ was established in 2003 and named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the NFL’s diversity committee. It requires NFL teams to interview at least one black or ethnic minority candidate for head coaching and senior football operation opportunities that become available, as part of a transparent and open recruitment process

Brian Collins noted in the New York Law Review: “A decision-maker harbouring unconscious bias is forced to confront his own partiality by meeting face-to-face with a candidate he might never have considered.”

Time to help black managers and would-be black managers – and with it encourage more black faces to consider a role in management.



Posted: 18th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews, Sports Comment | TrackBack | Permalink