Football fails to kick racist tag, says study

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Professional football clubs are failing to hire enough people from ethnic minorities in non-playing capacities, a report claimed yesterday.

Professional football clubs are failing to hire enough people from ethnic minorities in non-playing capacities, a report claimed yesterday.

The study by the University of Leicester found that the growing presence of black players in British teams was not matched in other jobs at clubs.

The researchers found that only two senior administrative jobs at professional clubs in England and Wales were held by members of ethnic minorities. The report said: "In terms of offering employment opportunities at senior levels for people from ethnic-minority communities, most clubs do extremely poorly."

The research was conducted by a postal survey of all 92 league clubs, to which 88 replied. Many clubs (35 per cent) still used "word of mouth" or personal contacts to recruit staff. The report said: "This is likely to discriminate against applicants from ethnic minority backgrounds, and it almost certainly helps to maintain a strongly 'white' senior administrative core in football."

Less than one-third (31 per cent) of clubs had written equal opportunities policies, despite this being a specific recommendation of the Football Task Force, the research said.

At most club matches, including those in areas with large black and Asian communities, ethnic-minority supporters made up 0 to 2 per cent of the total crowd. More than half (51 per cent) of all clubs were in areas with an ethnic-minority population of 5 per cent or more, while 29 per cent of clubs were in areas where one in 10 residents was of a ethnic-minority background.

About one-third of clubs explained ethnic-minority non-attendance in terms of fan concerns over racism (32 per cent) and cost (33 per cent).

The researchers said some clubs used "familiar cultural stereotypes" such as views that minority groups liked other sports (24 per cent) or were prevented from attending because of religious and cultural factors (11 per cent).

More than half (57 per cent) of the clubs were unaware of any recent incidents of racism among spectators at their home matches. That included clubs whose supporters had been involved in high-profile incidents of racist chanting last season.

Only eight clubs (9 per cent) had telephone hotlines for fans to report incidents of racism at matches. Yet 41 clubs (52 per cent) received recent reports of racism at home matches.

London clubs were consistently more likely to have worked with partner organisations on anti-racist projects. They, with some of the larger clubs in areas of the Midlands and the North with large ethnic-minority communities, showed a greater sense of "racial awareness" and commitment to opposing racism than smaller clubs in largely white areas.

The report's author, Steven Bradbury, said: "Many clubs seem to have struggled to try to connect with their local black and Asian communities, and to increase their involvement in football in terms of playing, spectating and, perhaps, most notably, employment opportunities, where a series of semi-institutionalised barriers to greater ethnic-minority participation seem to be a feature."