Clegg laments lack of black football managers

Nick Clegg argues football shows limits of race equality progress
Nick Clegg argues football shows limits of race equality progress

By Alex Stevenson

Football shows the limited progress made in the pursuit of race equality, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has said.

The Liberal Democrat leader praised the "meritocracy" with which modern football clubs evaluate their players, but lamented the lack of black football managers in charge of Premier League clubs.

His comments came a week after Fifa chief Sepp Blatter was forced to apologise after suggesting racist comments made on the pitch could be settled with a handshake.


"In football, fans adore their heroes for their talent and character, whether they are black or white," Mr Clegg said.

"And when Sepp Blatter dares trivialise racism on the pitch, his comments are rightly met with public outcry.

"But how many black managers are there in the Premier League? How many black or ethnic minority chief executives or senior executives?

"The answer is zero. If you are a white player you have a one in 50 chance of moving into management. If you are a black player? One in 500."

Mr Clegg used sport to show the progress made in race equality - but also the limits of that progress.

He cited former England cricketer Basil D'Oliveira, who died at the weekend and played a key role in prompting the boycott of Apartheid South Africa in 1968, as a reminder showing that sport has not always been so meritocratic.

The speech included an announcement of the establishment of a new government group looking at barriers preventing black and ethnic minority businessmen and women from accessing loans.

Mr Clegg said the "war on inequality" has "barely even begun" on the front of "economic opportunity".

Communities minister Andrew Stunell will work with the government's ethnic minority advisory group and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, along with finance experts to look at the problems facing black and ethnic minority groups from accessing loans.

"We urgently need to lift a lid on the injustices hardwired into our economy," Mr Clegg added.

"The previous government achieved a lot for race equality – and they deserve credit for it. But their answer to inequality, though benign, was too narrow: they attempted to deliver equality solely through the state."

The deputy prime minister's approach was to empower figures from black and ethnic minority communities as "strong individuals" rather than treating them as "passive recipients of state help", he explained.

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