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FA inclusion plan introduces racial quotas

DISCUSSIONS: FA chairman David Bernstein, left, attends the February Downing Street football in racism summit with former England player John Barnes, right

QUOTAS DEMANDING the total numbers of ethnic minority coaches and referees does not fall below 10 percent is one of 42 points to which the Football Association (FA) has committed itself.

Part of its ‘Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan’, which was agreed upon today (December 20) by the FA Board in response to February’s Downing Street racism in football summit, the football authority set the quota figure at 10 percent because it “is reflective of national demographics.”

The proposals are “for immediate implementation, and where possible we expect specific actions and initiatives to be underway by season 2013-14”, read the official document.

Overall, the inclusion document listed 106 points, and included signatures of the heads of seven footballing bodies: the FA; Premier League; Football League; Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA); League Managers’ Association; Professional Game Match Officials Ltd; and The Referees Association – all of which agreed to commit to their respective points.

Aside from the implementation of ethnic quotas, the FA, Premier League, Football League PFA, and LMA agree to audit their own workforces in order to determine how diverse they are.

The plan also confirms the rumoured intention for the FA to establish an Inclusion Advisory Board “to provide guidance on all equality matters and to verify and monitor the delivery of the action plan.”

Monitoring and education are prominent themes that run throughout the plan – pillars that the FA hopes will bring about a “cultural change” for fans, players and clubs throughout the game. County FAs are also party to signing up to the commitments, and they are “expected and encouraged” by the national body to form their own local and regional race and equality advisory boards.

Equality and racial awareness programmes will become mandatory requirements for coaches and officials seeking to gain FA qualifications, according to the plan. Furthermore, the FA is set to impose learning and development courses for its staff and County FA employees.

In addition, two “specific interventions” are outlined concerning Asian footballers and international football.

There is widespread bemusement as to why so few players are from Asian backgrounds. In order to address this concern, the inclusion plan seeks to implement programmes to increase Asian children playing the sport, promote existing Asian footballers as role models, and create talent development schemes targeting Asian men and boys via links with Asian community football clubs.

In regard to international football, and within the context of the heavily criticised reprimands Uefa gave to the Serbian football federation after the England Under-21s played there in October, there is nothing new offered up – only that the FA will continue to collaborate with Uefa and Fifa “on potential cultural and discrimination challenges when different countries are hosting international matches or tournaments.”

David Bernstein, the FA’s chairman and signatory to the plan, said: “This is a commitment on behalf of English football to ensure the game is inclusive and free of discrimination.

“Only by the sum of all our parts working together, will we affect further and greater change.

“This continues to be a top priority for me, as chairman of the FA and I believe this action plan states our collective commitment and lays out clearly the individual actions to move forward this vital agenda”, he added.

The inclusion plan acknowledges more work should be done in concert with campaigning groups like Kick It Out (KIO) and Show Racism the Red Card. In response to the newly published points, KIO's chairman, Lord Herman Ouseley, who last week announced he is stepping down from his FA advisory roles, told The Voice: "I don’t think it’s anything revolutionary; it’s all good stuff – all supportable things. The implementation is the crunch.

“If it’s just mealy-mouthed; ‘here it is, we’ve got a little plan and we’re working on it, come back in 10 years time and see how we’ve got on’, then it’s a waste of time, but I think it’s done in the right spirit with the right intentions.

“Now we’ve got to see if they can convert that into real action," added the 67-year-old who quit his FA duties due to frustration at how the organisation has handled racist incidents over the last 14 months.

On the topic of the new Inclusion Advisory Board, Ouseley said "it makes sense", but he could not yet judge it because he is not aware of who will sit on it. However, he tempered any high expectations, citing his own experiences as an FA adviser. "The group I chaired, the Race Equality Advisory Group [to be replaced by the new Inclusion Advisory Board], that was an advisory group to the [FA] Board, and for three, four years I’m not sure what advice it gave to the Board. And if it gave any advice to the Board, I’m not sure the Board was listening," he said.

Lumping all seven footballing authorities together, the KIO chief could not disguise his dissatisfaction. “There’s a limit to how much advice this mob should be getting now, because quite frankly all authorities should be aware of what discrimination entails, what action is necessary to deal with it, and get on and deal with it.

“Football is a big industry, there are eight million people playing it," he added. "We don’t get the same kind of crap with women’s and disabled football, and we’ve now got to get the men’s game straight, particularly at the professional level with 30 percent of black players in that game, we’ve really got to get it right."

More to follow

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