English Premiership

EPL to adopt 'Rooney rule'?

2014-10-08 17:00
Jeffrey Webb (Getty Images)

London - Owners of Premier League clubs must ensure black managers are given a chance to succeed and one solution could be to introduce American Football's 'Rooney Rule', FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb has said on Wednesday.

A law whereby at least one black or ethnic minority candidate must be interviewed for every head coaching job has been in force in the NFL since 2003 after it was pushed forward by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.

Carlisle United's Keith Curle and Huddersfield Town's Chris Powell are the only two black managers throughout the 92 professional clubs in the Premier and Football Leagues.

Huddersfield are in the Championship (second tier) and Carlisle in League Two (fourth tier).

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was asked last week whether the Rooney Rule should be introduced to the Premier League but the Portuguese denied more needed to be done, saying: "There is no racism in football. Football is not so stupid to close doors to people."

But Webb, president of the CONCACAF confederation which represents North and Central America and the Caribbean, told delegates at the Leaders in Sport Convention at Stamford Bridge that it is the responsibility of Premier League owners -- and not FIFA -- to employ black managers.

"The Rooney Rule has been great," said Webb, the head of FIFA's Anti-Discrimination Task Force.

"It has been tremendous, but in this era, in this century, should we really have to mandate opportunities for qualified individuals? Sadly, the answer is yes.

"How many American owners do we have in English Premier League clubs? There's a number of them (American owners) so why have certain standards here?

"Of course in the U.S in the NFL league you live by different standards. Why? If it's good there why would it not be good here?

"I don't think FIFA can regulate that. I think it has to come from within. It has to start with the ownership and of course the fans have to demand it."

Former Queens Park Rangers striker Les Ferdinand was appointed as the club's head of football operations on Tuesday but Webb would like to see more black coaches given a chance, highlighting the example of Eddie Newton who was assistant manager to Roberto Di Matteo when Chelsea won the Champions League in 2012.

Fittingly in a sense, as he was speaking at the home of Chelsea, Webb said: "I met a young guy coaching at Chelsea. He won a Champions League final and was doing well with the club.

"He can't even get an interview: Eddie Newton can't get an interview. I'm not talking about getting a job, just getting an interview."

However, Webb did praise UEFA for barring Italian federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio from holding any position within European soccer's governing body for six months after he caused an outcry when he referred to African players as "banana eaters".

"Congratulations to UEFA, I think they have made a huge stand in recent weeks and on the stand of the Italian Federation," he said.

"We have been talking a long time about zero tolerance and saying no to racism but I think it's now time that we see that action.

"That is really refreshing but we have a huge fight on our hands in combating ignorance."

Read more on:    english premiership  |  soccer

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