Can you name 10 black football managers?

Equality through representation, not tokenism

by Yasin Bangee

I asked a question of my social media followers;
“Can you name 10 black football managers who have managed in Europe, ever?”
tigana_largeThe answers came pouring in, with various people naming between 4-6. The obvious candidates, Chris Powell, Jean Tigana, Paul Ince, Chris Hughton, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. Beyond that some unfamiliar names such as Leroy Rosenior, Terry Conners and…silence.
It seems ludicrous to suggest that racism and inequality still holds a place within British football. Far away in Moscow we all witnessed Yaya Toure face racial abuse and we thought “that’s them, we’ve got our house in order in the English game”. Sadly, that’s not the reality.The FA has set up a commission to look into the English national game with a view to improve footballing standards of young English footballers, and all but one is a white man (and the exception, Rio Ferdinand, is naturally a man). His appointment to the panel came after outrage and shock at the original selections of white men.
Despite black footballers making up 30% of all professionals in Britain, less than 1% of all managers are black. The higher up you go in the football structure the less diversity you come across. Whilst the 30% may be a recent figure, black footballers have been present in the English leagues since 1990.
Black managers speak of difficulties in getting a job, and thereafter keeping that job should things go awry. Football is a notoriously fickle sport but the difference in how black and white managers are treated is noticeable. Whilst others like Neil Warnock, Martin Allen, Ian Holloway, Simon Grayson and Aidy Boothroyd walk from job to job despite less than impressive results at prior appointments, black managers get one shot, one opportunity and are rarely seen from again. Keith Curle has vanished after being sacked earlier this year. His replacement Chris Kiwomya was in charge for 8 months before leaving earlier this week.
solcampbellLove him or hate him, Sol Campbell addresses the problem head on. Here’s a man who is the ultimate mercenary, who wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers and cause controversy. Some may say he’s a bit like Roy Keane. But Roy Keane has managed 2 football clubs, whilst Sol Campbell has stated he may have to go abroad, like Brian Deane, in order to get on the footballing ladder.
Interestingly both Phil Neville and Gary Neville have secured England supporting roles under Roy Hodgson whilst Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have been retained by Manchester United to coach their next generation of footballers. Where are the black coaches? The black assistant managers? Black footballers have been around for 20-30 years in the British game yet so few remain in the game once their playing careers end.
Time once was where black footballers had certain stereotypes pinned against them. A black footballer is quick, so put him on the wing and up front. A black footballer is strong but not so smart, so lets kick the ball at him and he’ll flick it on. A black footballer though cannot ever play in goal. All of the above is nonsense but the fallout from such nonsense exists to this day. The way people describe Benteke and Lukaku, two very different footballers to Drogba, as “beasts, powerful, monsters” is telling of a game that still considers the white footballer as the true superstar. Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez are lauded for being inventive and tricky, whilst Eto’o, Yaya Toure and Drogba are admired for their physicality, their pace and power and dominance.
As Roberto Martinez unwittingly said, of Lukaku, “He’s also intelligent”. As though being black and intelligent isn’t common occurrence.
At Liverpool the only minority I can think of within the coaching staff is the club doctor, who naturally hails from South Asia. What about the club you follow? Ignore the 11 men on the pitch, what’s the make up of the backroom staff?
Rio-Ferdinand
Lots may argue that football in Britain is not racist, or has flashes of one off racist incidents such as Luis Suarez and John Terry, but like any world system, the higher up to you go the whiter it becomes.

Yasin Bangee is a writer based in the North West. He writes about his main passions, football, social justice and inequality, and offers thoughts on all things political. As a a British Muslim he has first hand experience of the rise and impact of Islamophobia. Archive of his column This Week in IslamophobiaFind his writing at False7andahalf

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6 replies

  1. Roberto Martinez comments are used out of context – he is not a racist, he actually said Lukaku was intelligent in addition to being physically strong. Otherwise a good and informative article,

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  2. There are FOUR white English managers in the Premier League. Take your race argument elsewhere because it doesn’t stack up. Is Campbell advocating a system where being black should get you the job? If you were running a PL club would you turn down an experienced and previously successful manager because a black man had also applied? What about Asians? Africans? Women? Gay managers? Ginger managers? Fat managers? Bald managers? Where does it stop? Campbell makes his statement out of self interest, and to promote sales of his book. This is a non-story unless you highlight the lack of opportunities for all the other minority groups mentioned above INCLUDING white Englishmen, and don’t try to claim I must be racist because I am neither white nor English but I AM embarrassed by stories such as this. Do it on MERIT guys, not on colour. Powell, Connor, Ince, Barnes, even dear old Keith Alexander, all simply weren’t good enough. Maybe Brian Deane over in Norway might be taking the eye of a few English clubs looking for a new option, but seriously, to have a situation where only being black is a criterion for selection is simply an example of self-serving discrimination in exactly the same fashion as Sol claims is going on now.

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  3. No, I can’t name 10 black football managers, not without google.
    It would be interesting to know how many there have been throught all 4 tiers of English football.

    Great article

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  4. Shout out for Keith Alexander who was a great manager at Lincoln City in 2 spells (and at some other clubs), before his untimely death in 2010.

    In the US NFL since the Rooney Rule was introduced in 2003, which required teams to interview ‘minority candidates’ (wiki’s phrase) for coaching roles, the proportion of black coaches has risen from 6% to 22% – still not great but significantly better, and which will hopefully rise in the future. There are loopholes, but still – this is an unambiguous example of positive action *having a meaningful effect*. Whether the FA has the genuine will to change is another question. Personally, I’m not optimistic the FA – or UEFA and FIFA – give a damn.

    Thanks for the article, it’s a damining indictment of the state of football. I just wish more people from within the game would start raising their voices (as in SHOUTING, LOUD AND NON-STOP) until something gets done.

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  5. Agree with much of this, would add that the old boys football network accounts for under qualified footballers being parachuted in coaching staff -Shearer to Newcastle that time, and the Nevilles as you rightly point out.
    Patrick Viera heads Man City Elite Development Squad I think, Michael Emenalo is director of football at Chelsea with a good track record-signed Mata, Hazard, Luiz but also set up Benitez(!)

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