The Sweeper: The Football Association and Diversity in English Football
The Kick it Out campaign for equality and inclusion in English football has been a notable success over the years, and is currently in the midst of a high-profile campaign this month, “One Game, One Community. As well as their grassroots work, Kick It Out have this year been exerting more and more pressure on the game’s leadership to reflect the diversity of the country from the top-down.
David Conn reports that attention is being focused on the Football Association, whose board, headed by Lord Triesman, consists of 12 white, middle-aged men: “The FA’s whiteness, and its sluggish approach to change, drew Ouseley’s [Kick It Out’s chairman] ire in May after a British National Party councillor attended the launch of England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Citing that as a “debacle”, Ouseley said he, Crooks, Kick it Out’s director Piara Powar, and Heather Rabbatts, the former Millwall chief executive, had two “heated” meetings subsequently with Triesman. These four, with the former Celtic and Chelsea player and now World Cup bid director Paul Elliott, have been working together as a lobby group to encourage the FA to introduce more of a racial mix into the organisation.”
This pressure appears to have worked, as the Football Association’s England World Cup bid announced today all the members of its Inclusivity Advisory Group, an 11-person panel headed by Paul Elliott, and including Piara Powar, the Director of Kick It Out. Representatives from the Gay Football Supporters’ Network, the National Association of Disabled Supporters and women’s football are also included. This is a welcome move in response to the criticism, but advisory roles are not enough: the F.A. should also work towards seeing that positions of power for a game that reflects the country’s diversity do not only come from one entrenched demographic of white, middle-aged men.
- In a brief note in the Toronto Sun, Toronto FC defender and union representative Nick Garcia says players have been told to put away money for a potential strike next year. The Collective Bargaining Agreement expires this year, and the players are pushing for guaranteed contracts to fall in line with the rest of the world (though not the rest of American sports) — something pretty unlikely to happen.
- Meanwhile, the fallout from failure had its first casualty in Toronto, with coach Chris Cummins leaving, going out with honesty but without a lot of class complaining of “people putting the knife in, things like that, people backstabbing and talking about people.” Dallas also took action, releasing General Manager Michael Hitchcock from purgatory. One big question is what DC United will do next, with coach Tommy Soehn under evaluation by club President Kevin Payne, himself under increasing pressure from fans.
- Crowd trouble broke out in the Carling Cup last night, with Manchester United fans accused of pelting police and breaking into a kiosk, with the Football Association opening an investigation.
- We have occasion to use “crisis” once again with regard to British clubs’ financial problems, as Hull are facing a shortfall running into tens of millions of dollars, while Portsmouth have been hit by a transfer ban.
- It looks like Newcastle fans are stuck with Mike Ashley, who has taken the club off the market, promising to pump in millions but also, in what might finally drive Newcastle fans from the stadium completely, announcing plans to sell the naming rights to St. James Park. On a more positive note, Ashley made Chris Hughton’s job as manager permanent, making him the third black manager in the league. I guess inclusivity can come from unexpected places.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.