NFL’s Rooney Rule Inspires England’s Football Association

The 2003 rule to encourage diversity in hiring in the National Football League is also moving the ball forward for the English Football Association, which has faced diversity issues of its own in recent years.

One of the National Football League’s best-regarded diversity efforts is gaining influence with the other football—soccer.

Recently, the English Football Association (FA) announced it would emulate the Rooney Rule, an NFL requirement that minority candidates be interviewed for coaching and management positions. According to  the Associated Press, the England national men’s team has never had a nonwhite manager, and the BBC noted in November that just 22 of the 482 senior coaching roles in England’s top football divisions are filled by black, Asian, or other minority coaches.

The Rooney Rule, first implemented in the NFL in 2003, could provide a path forward for England’s league. The NFL has seen much success in hiring minority coaches since implementing the rule, named for former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who led the league’s diversity committee. At the start of the current season, more than a quarter of NFL coaches were minorities. And although some stats suggest minority coaches are more likely to lose their jobs when they  are leading a winning team, overall the rule has been a net-positive for the league.

FA CEO Martin Glenn told the BBC that the league’s decision to implement the rule shows that “FA is for all.”

“What it will say is the opportunity to have a career beyond playing is something that the FA is serious about promoting,” he added.

FA has faced controversy in recent months on diversity issues. Last year, Chelsea Ladies Football Club striker Eniola Aluko, who is black, filed a complaint about England women’s coach Mark Sampson, claiming he had bullied and discriminated against her. Days later, she was removed from the women’s national team. Sampson was eventually fired amid claims of inappropriate relationships with players.

Glenn added that, in response to the controversy, FA would “make sure everyone who puts on the England shirt has a way to air concerns or grievances in a fair, speedy, and prompt manner.”

(swedewah/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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