PFA announce six-point anti-racism plan

Clarke Carlisle
PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle has been vocal in promoting an anti-racism agenda. Photo: PA

Tougher penalties and instant sackings for racist abuse, plus the introduction of the 'Rooney rule' to boost the numbers of black coaches, are part of a six-point plan put forward by the Professional Footballers' Association to tackle discrimination.

The plan, announced by PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor, comes in response to a number of players who expressed frustration over their union, with there even being talk of a breakaway organisation for black players.

Most of the points on the PFA action plan would have to be agreed by the FA and the leagues, who say they will study the proposals.

Taylor outlined the PFA's action plan in a statement to the Press Association. The plan calls for:

  • Speeding up the process of dealing with reported racist abuse with close monitoring of any incidents.
  • Consideration of stiffer penalties for racist abuse and to include an equality awareness programme for culprits and clubs involved.
  • An English form of the 'Rooney rule', introduced by the NFL in the United States in 2003, to make sure qualified black coaches are on interview lists for job vacancies.
  • The proportion of black coaches and managers to be monitored and any inequality or progress highlighted.
  • Racial abuse to be considered gross misconduct in player and coach contracts [and therefore potentially a sackable offence].
  • To not to lose sight of other equality issues such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Asians in football.

The FA are due to issue a response to the Government before turn of the year following a summit on tackling racism in football at 10 Downing Street in May, on behalf of all of the game.

The PFA's action plan will feed into that response, although there is no guarantee all the points will be supported by the FA.

The Premier League said they would discuss the PFA plan with their 20 members clubs.

A PL spokesman said: "We have not yet received this proposal from the PFA and were not aware of it prior to the media coverage today.

"When we receive this proposal we will of course discuss it with the PFA at our regular meetings and engage with our clubs and other organisations, including the FA, Football League and the LMA, to discuss these important issues.

"The Premier League is a meritocracy and is committed to promoting equality and diversity in football and eradicating all forms of discrimination from the game."

It is understood however that neither the FA nor the Premier League are in favour of bringing in the Rooney Rule, where clubs would be obliged to have at least one candidate from ethnic minorities on shortlists for coaching jobs.

The PFA response comes after Reading striker Jason Roberts, a member of the union's management committee, expressed frustration that his recommendations had not been acted on.

He said: "The equality department in the PFA needs to change and should have stronger leadership and more than just one or two staff. It doesn't have the resources or the manpower to tackle the job.

"These are the issues that I felt needed to be raised. Detailed discussions and recommendations have been tabled for a year now, across several meetings, without any progress being made."

FA chairman David Bernstein announced yesterday that the governing body will review the sanctions for racist abuse following the John Terry case, but insisted the Chelsea captain's four-match ban was "about right".

Meanwhile, former West Brom and Arsenal defender Brendon Batson has called on black players not to form a breakaway group.

Batson, a former PFA administrator, told BBC Radio Five: I'd be really disappointed if there was a split and I don't think there would be any benefit.

"What we need to do is address the concerns of current black players, hear their voice and see if we can do something about it.

"We should be very proud of what has happened. Before you had National Front targeting black players and the volume of abuse at stadiums was horrendous.

"The campaign (Kick It Out) when it started off was not just a black issue, all the players supported the campaigns and other campaigns.

"It was a united front against racism and I think we need to harness the anger of the current players and let it be an instrument for change, but I don't think a split will help the situation."