Black coaches don't have the same opportunities in Europe, says Seedorf

Clarence Seedorf
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The former Netherlands midfielder says he hasn't even been approached about coaching jobs in Europe in recent years despite his stellar playing career

Black coaches have fewer opportunities to manage in Europe compared to elsewhere in the world, according to former Netherlands midfielder Clarence Seedorf.

Seedorf enjoyed a glittering playing career representing some of Europe’s biggest sides, but hasn’t coached on the continent since he was sacked by Deportivo La Coruna three years ago.

The 44-year-old believes that is not necessarily a reflection of his coaching ability, but rather a symptom of an unequal society.

What did Seedorf say?

Seedorf claims to not even have been approached over potential roles since leaving Cameroon in 2019, which he believes is unusual given his status as one of the greatest players of his generation.

He also cited the experience of former Arsenal duo Theirry Henry and Patrick Vieira, who have both pursued their coaching careers in North America.

“I played 12 years in Italy: after [coaching] Milan, despite having done a great job, I received no calls,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Holland is my country, yet again, zero calls. What are the selection criteria? Why do great champions have no chance in Europe where they wrote pages of football history?

“Why does Vieira have to go to New York and Henry to Canada? For coaches there are no equal opportunities: if we look at the figures, there are no black people in the positions of greatest power in football.

“It’s something that concerns the whole of society. Everyone, especially those who can change things, must feel the responsibility to create a meritocratic world and keep all the doors open if they aspire to excellence.

"The best results can come from diversity.”

Where has Seedorf managed?

AC Milan were languishing in 11th place when Seedorf ended his playing career at Botafogo to take charge of the club in January 2014.

He led them to 11 wins from 19 Serie A games in charge and an eventual eighth-place finish.

Despite that improvement, Seedorf was sacked just four months into a two-and-a-half-year contract and replaced by youth-team coach Filippo Inzaghi.

Since then he has had short spells in charge of Chinese Super League side Shenzhen and Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna, before taking charge of the Cameroon national team.

However, he was sacked by the Indomitable Lions following a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations campaign and has not managed since.

The bigger picture

The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement last year shone a light on the issue of racial inequality in society, and football is no different.

Football has shown a willingness to confront those issues in the game, with players taking a knee before games serving as a symbolic gesture of the ongoing fight for a fairer society.

However, Seedorf’s comments highlight the need to take practical steps to redress the balance rather than just gestures, including having greater diversity in club boardrooms as well as in the dugout.

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