What is the Rooney Rule? English FA Plans to End White Domination of Top Coaching Jobs

The English FA will interview at least one black or ethnic minority candidate when finding Gareth Southgate's replacement as men's national team manager after adopting the Rooney Rule.

The Rooney Rule, which was introduced by the National Football League (NFL) in the United States in 2003, obliged clubs to interview at least one candidate for every senior head coach role.

The FA's chief executive Martin Glenn says the move is to show that the "FA is for all." In an interview with the BBC, he said: "What it will say is the opportunity to have a career beyond playing is something that the FA is serious about promoting.

"The FA wants to become a more inclusive organisation where the workforce more represents the people who play football today."

The English men's national team has never had a non-white manager in its history, while the women's team was coached by Hope Powell, who is black, between 2007 and 2011. She took England to the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Cup.

The only current black manager in the Premier League is Chris Hughton at Brighton and Hove Albion, after he led them to promotion to the Premier League last season.

Martin Glenn
Martin Glenn in Chantilly, France, June 28. Glenn, the FA chief executive, has brought in the Rooney Rule in the organization. Dan Mullan/Getty

A study published in November and conducted by Loughborough University and the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) group found that only 4.6 percent of coaches from black and ethnic minorities (BAME) occupied senior coaching roles at England's 92 professional soccer clubs.

It described the numbers as "disappointingly low" and added that "institutionally embedded barriers which have restricted opportunities for BAME coaches in the past" remained firmly in place.

The results were an update of a survey in 2014 which found that 96.6 percent of senior coaches at clubs in England, Germany, Spain, Belgium, France and the Netherlands were white men.

FARE executive director Piara Powar said that, given that around 30 percent of players in England and 40 percent in France and the Netherlands were from a BAME background, "the numbers don't add up."

"(BAME) coaches are investing time and money, they are expressing their willingness to take on responsible roles at the top level," he told Reuters on the sidelines of a sports conference.

"But it seems that at club level, owners are not prepared to give them the opportunity." Powar said it was not only an issue of discrimination but also performance.

"No football team can afford to miss out on coaching talent," he said. "If you look at the professional structures in Western Europe... marginal gains are being talked about, the importance of one, two or three points at the end of the season, so why would owners and associations not look at recruiting the best talent regardless of the ethnic background?"