Underrepresentation in the Premier League.
In the United Kingdom, the current political environment has left the nation more divided than it has ever seemed. As a first-year university student, certainly in my lifetime I haven’t been witness to the same level of distinction between countrymen that exists post 2016. Many people look to football as a means of escapism from the mundane and sometimes harsh reality of everyday life. It then seems logical to me that the idealistic world of football should reflect the idealistic views for society that we should be endeavouring to uphold. However, in reality the ideal and the actual seem always far apart.
It may shock many to know there is only 1 current BAME (Black And Minority Ethnic) manager currently managing in the Premier League: Wolves’ coach Nuno Espirito Santo. A damning stat. Looking at the 2019/20 Premier League an aspiring Black coach would only have a 5% likelihood of being appointed. Whilst the Rooney Rule has appeared to improve representation in English football, stats like this clearly indicate otherwise.
According to Jonathan Liew at The Independent, since 1990, “just under 25% of retired English footballers have been from Black or Ethnic Minority backgrounds.” This number drops to 14.3% when looking at those who have entered management post playing career. Liew goes on to say that White, English, former footballers are twice as likely to be appointed as a manager in one of Europe’s top 5 leagues than their Black counterparts. In a diverse, multi-cultural society in 2020, this is unacceptable. But is it a problem localised to the Premier League or are Europe’s other leagues guilty of underrepresentation?
German Bundesliga: 0 BAME Managers
Italian Serie A: 1 BAME Manager (Fabio Liverani, US Lecce)
Spanish La Liga: 0 BAME Managers
French Ligue 1: 1 BAME Manager (Patrick Vieira, OGC Nice)
The rest of Europe’s top 5 leagues make for appalling reading as well. The Italian and French leagues are tied with the Premier League, boasting 1 BAME manager apiece. It appears the problem is more widespread than initially thought.
Football is not alone in a borderline criminal rate of underrepresentation, according to Derek Dingle at Black Enterprise: “there are 4 black fortune 500 CEO” currently. The article referenced was written on October 16th2019 meaning it is still relevant at the time of writing. He further adds “This is not a talent issue, but an access issue.” The same, it has to be said, can be applied to football.
As fans and consumers of football, we have to admit to ourselves that there is an underlying racism that exists far outside of the disgusting verbal abuse heard in the stands. It isn’t just an issue with far-right clubs in Italy or Eastern Europe who proudly salute and chant Nazi sympathies. It is a problem on our own shores, in our own clubs and in our own boardrooms.