Sol Campbell: FA commission 'should be more diverse'

By David OrnsteinBBC Sport
Campbell calls for more FA diversity

Former England defender Sol Campbell has criticised the lack of diversity on the Football Association commission set up to find ways of improving the national team.

The eight people named so far on FA chairman Greg Dyke's panel are white.

"I wouldn't mind if they had some black players in there, black players who have actually done something for club and country," Campbell told BBC Sport.

"Football is a diverse game and that should be reflected in the committee."

Dyke is joined by former England defender Danny Mills, ex-England boss Glenn Hoddle, former Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson and FA vice-chairman Roger Burden.

Football League chairman Greg Clarke, new Professional Footballers' Association chairman Ritchie Humphreys and Crewe director of football Dario Gradi complete the eight-man panel.

"There is enough experience there but I wouldn't mind if they looked at other avenues and maybe put some black players in there to mix it about," said Campbell.

"It seems like that's overlooked all the time. I don't know who's whispering in their ears but it seems the same situation keeps cropping up.

"The FA has got to start opening up, spreading its wings and looking at different people from different backgrounds who have done great things for club and country to get the views they need to move on.

"You can't have similar people, similar mindsets, in one committee if you want to expand and find different solutions."

It is understood the FA has spoken to members of black and minority ethnic communities about joining the commission, but many of those approached have not been able to commit the required time and even if people are not on the panel it does not mean they will not be consulted.

Furthermore, the line-up is not complete - Dyke says he is in talks over adding "one or two other people who have not made up their minds" - and the FA feels judgement should be reserved until then.

The commission will consider how to increase the number of England-qualified players appearing for the country's leading clubs, and intends to report its findings by the end of March 2014.

BBC Sport's State of the Game in numbers

Its formation followed news that playing time of English under-21s in the Premier League has fallen to its lowest level, while on Thursday a BBC Sport study showed English players currently account for less than one third of minutes played in the top flight.

Former Tottenham and Arsenal centre-back Campbell, who played 73 times for England, has been a vocal critic of the FA since retiring in May 2012 and recently described his relationship with the governing body as "broken".

But the 39-year-old welcomed the commission, saying: "I don't want it to fail, I want it to be successful. But it's a really tough job because they left it for far too long to wake up to the problem.

"At least they finally recognised the problem and are going to do something about it."

Campbell suggested the influx of foreign players into club academies was harming homegrown talent.

"English players are suffering," said the former Portsmouth defender, who is studying for his coaching badges with the Welsh FA. "When I started, only one player in my youth team wasn't British - Quinton Fortune. Now, if you go into most Premier League clubs - especially top ones - there are hardly any English players.

"The pool is dropping and the pressure from foreign players means the English kids haven't got the chance to make mistakes - you've got to give them space to grow."

Campbell is unhappy that foreign talent developed in a club's academy can be classified as "homegrown", but admits English players have fallen behind their overseas counterparts when is comes to essential skills.

"I was in Germany three or four weeks ago and saw kids playing in the streets," he explained. "Up and down England, we are not seeing kids playing in the streets, learning how to play football.

"Around the world - Italy, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Portugal - kids are playing on the street, learning craft, learning to take people on, working angles out and learning space awareness.

"When I was growing up that was the norm - kids playing on the streets everywhere. Maybe we have to replicate that in training methods; get young players working in tight areas, learning craft, enjoying it, space awareness, learning how to control the ball and pass the ball in a tight situation."

Campbell sympathised with Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere's argument that only English people should play football for England, but conceded that might not be practical.

"I see where he is coming from, you need to have at least grown up in England and understand the meaning of playing for England," Campbell added. "But the FA has to look at different avenues and explore everything.

"Football moves so quickly and if you haven't got that pool of players to fill the void for outgoing players of England, you have to look at other avenues."