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Chuka Umunna: Football must give minorities top jobs

Category: Industry News

Chuka Umunna: Football must give minorities top jobs

Football clubs were condemned for failing to appoint black directors and managers.

In a speech in Brixton to mark Black History Week, rising Labour MP Chuka Umunna said a quarter of Premier League players were black — but just two per cent of managers and no directors.

“We can’t carry on like this — this has to change,” said the Streatham MP and shadow business secretary. “Can we really say to our young people that we rate their physical ability more than their other talents?”

Mr Umunna backed a British “Rooney Rule” — the regulation which requires teams in America’s NFL to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior executive roles — to increase black and minority ethnic appointments higher up in sport.

He also called for more action to boost the number of black and Asian people in university management and company boardrooms, suggesting there should be compulsory reporting by firms on their diversity, just as they have to reveal how many women get directorships.

Mr Umunna’s comments about football were his most personal. His father was on the board at Crystal Palace and was the only African director of any Premier League club when the league was launched in 1992.

“Things haven’t changed much in 22 years,” he said. “Look at Premier League clubs now and you’ll see most have no people of colour on their boards or in any senior roles. Out of 92 professional league clubs, there are currently only two black manager."

Sport was often held up as "an area in which barriers have been broken" but the MP said: "We rightly cheer the success of our many black footballers ... But take a look off the pitch where a lot of power is wielded, and you see a different story."

Television and newspapers also failed to reflect their audience, he said, pointing out that Amol Rajan the editor of the independent, is currently the only BME journalist to run a newspaper.

"How can you present an accurate portrait and reflect the experience of people of colour in our country, if those very people do not sit at tour top table?" he asked.

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