Racism in English football 'right in front of your face' - Fifa vice-president

Jeffrey Webb says that black and ethnic minority coaches are struggling to get interviewed for positions in the UK - something that hints at an institutional problem
Jeffrey Webb, chair of Fifa's anti-discrimination taskforce, says racism is "right in front of your face" amid the current debate about the lack of black and ethnic minority managers in English football.

Only two of England's 92 professional clubs currently employ a black manager - Chris Powell at Huddersfield and Keith Curle at Carlisle.

Gordon Taylor, the Professional Football's Association chair, said last week that such a situation could be deemed as "hidden racism" in the game.

However, Webb - a Fifa vice-president - says there is nothing hidden about it.

"I don't know how it could be hidden," he said at the Leaders Sport Business Summit at Stamford Bridge. "You have 93, 94 clubs (sic) and you have two coaches of colour.

"How many board members do you have? How many board members or club executives in various positions in the FA, in Uefa?

"So it's not hidden.

"It's hidden from a discussion standpoint. No one wants to deal with it. No one wants to deal with it from a real dicussion, no one wants to deal with it from a commercial standpoint."

Webb revealed that he spoke to the former Chelsea assistant manager, Eddie Newton, who was involved in the 2012 Champions League win about the situation.

"Eddie Newton can't even get an interview," he said. "I'm not talking about getting a job. I'm talking about getting an interview.

"That's not hidden. It's right in front of your face."

There have been calls for implementation of a rule similar to the Rooney Rule in the NFL in English football - recently led by former England defender Rio Ferdinand.

The Rooney Rule was introduced to the NFL in 2003 and stipulates that black and minority candidates must be interviewed for coaching and senior operational jobs at NFL franchises.

Webb sees the merit in using the Rooney Rule as a starting point but is calling for wholesale changes in the outlook of English football.

"The Rooney rule has done great," said Webb. It's been tremendous. But in this day and time, in this era, in this century - should we really be having to mandate opportunities for qualified individuals?

"Sadly but the answer is yes.

"It has to come from the clubs. It has to start with the ownership. The fans have to demand the opportunity that there is equality. Unless we have that, don't expect any changes.

"How many American owners are there in English Premier League? I think there's a number of them. Why have certain standards here and then of course in the US, in the NFL leagues, where you live, where you conduct business, you live by a different standard? Why?

"If it's good here it should be good there.

"There's a lack of dialogue. There's no conversation. A big part of the lack of conversation comes from the commercial aspect of the game. Really, you've got to get one or two managers through and be successful, once they get that opportunity that might change the mentality and change the landscape."

Webb has been in charge of Fifa's anti-discrimination since 2013 and admits that the fight against racism has a long way to run. He did however credit Uefa's recent efforts in condemning CSKA Moscow to a stadium ban as a result of their fans' racist behaviour and in banning Carlo Tavecchio, Italian FA president, for six months from all Uefa activity.

"We've created a legislation, we've brought awareness and we've brought dialogue," Webb said.

"Congratulations to Uefa. They made a huge step in recent weeks - from the decisions on the Moscow club [CSKA], the decisions of yesterday with the Italian federation.

"We've been talking a long time about zero tolerance and saying no to racism but it's now time we see action coming forth and that is very refreshing.

"But we have a huge fight on our hands combatting racism."

Webb admitted his concerns about the 2018 World Cup in Russia considering the continuous anti-racism violations but called for education in the run-up to the event.

"There are huge challenge with Russia" he said. "We must commence. It must start with education. It must come from the top down the message that integration is good, there's nothing to fear but it must start and end with education."