Football clubs need to diversify, says Kick It Out chief


Clubs should consider employing a minority candidate when it comes to choosing between two with similar qualifications, the director of an anti-discrimination body has said.

Kick It Out's  Roisin Wood told BBC Sport that football in Britain would benefit from "diversification".

"It's about positive action," she said.

"When it comes down to the final two equally qualified candidates, then it's about looking where your levels of under-representation are at the club."

Kick It Out facts

  • Kick Racism out of Football began in 1993
  • It became the more wide-ranging anti-discrimination body Kick It Out in 1997
  • Its first Kick It Out week of action was held in 2001
  • In the season 2010-11, the organisation had an annual budget of £453,913
  • Of that, £330,000 came from the Football Association, the Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association
  • It employs seven staff

Wood, who was appointed director in 2012, added: "I know positive discrimination is illegal but positive action is lawful  and should be looked at when it comes to diversification in football.

"We are behind [when it come to diversity]. We lack representation in football at higher levels in these communities [ethnic minorities, women and those with disabilities]."

Wood added that the Football Association was one football organisation that was making an effort to change the perception of "old boys' club" at administration level, with Kelly Simmons (director of the National Game and women's football) and Heather Rabatts (director)  both handed senior positions in the past two years. However, the Kick It Out chief said the change in football was not happening "fast enough".

In April, Football League chairman Greg Clarke met the Professional Footballers' Association and agreed to discuss new measures aimed at increasing the number of ethnic minority managers at the league's 72 clubs.

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Clubs shouldn't do it because it's morally right but they should do it as a business case

Roisin Wood Director of Kick It Out

They included having a 30-strong list of qualified black and other minority managers ready to take up a vacant position. Fifty percent of clubs in the League will have to vote in favour of the proposals for them to come into effect.

Norwich City boss Chris Hughton is currently the only black manager in the Premier League.

When asked about the number of black managers in British football, Wood added: "It's disproportionate when you take into account there are 30% of non-white players in the professional game.

"But we have to look at the diversification in the whole of football though. We also need to get women and those with disabilities in higher levels.

"Clubs shouldn't do it because it's morally right, but they should do it as a business case - people want to work in a diverse workplace."

As part of its campaign to combat abuse at football grounds, Kick It Out has launched an app  so fans can report incidents of discrimination.

"Some fans have no problem approaching stewards on the day, but for others this is a really easy way to report abuse without maybe drawing attention to yourself," said Wood.