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Football: FA Leadership Diversity Code Report

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

The Governing Body of English Football, the FA (Football Association) has just published its Football Leadership Diversity Code Report for the 2021-2022 season.

The Code, whose purpose is to tackle racial inequality in the English game, was launched in 2020 and the latest Report shows that, whilst 43% of the Premier League and 34% of the English Football League players are black, only 4.4% of the managers are black.

The Report also found that 14% of top coaching qualifications are held by blacks and 1.6% of executive, leadership and ownership positions are held by blacks.

Furthermore:

  • 9% of former players active in professional English football (2004-2020) that progressed into ‘ex-player’ manager/admin roles are black; and
  • Black players are under-represented in scouting or junior coaching positions.

Les Ferdinand of QPR, the only black director of football in England and a founding member of the Black Footballers Partnership, remarked:

It’s a voluntary code, so it’s made no difference whatsoever, because there’s no repercussions for anyone if you don’t follow the code.”  

At the time that the Code was launched, former Chelsea and Aston Villa defender, Paul Elliott, who was head of the FA inclusion advisory board, stated:

We are trying to modernise football, so it stops relying on its ‘little black book’ and group of networks, and actually give equal opportunities to those who are qualified.”

And added:

This isn’t about tokenism; this is about equal opportunities.”  

The numbers in the Report are disappointing and, therefore, there needs to be action not just nice words if there is to be racial equality in the ‘beautiful game’ in England!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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The editors of  the Journal Sports Law & Taxation are Professor Ian Blackshaw and Dr Rijkele Betten, with specialist contributions from the world's leading practitioners and academics in the sports law and taxation fields.

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