FA chairman seeks changes at the top

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The Independent Football

Football Association chairman Lord Triesman is among those calling for further work to combat racism and ensure equality throughout the sport, including at boardroom level.

Triesman outlined the FA's zero-tolerance attitude to racism during a speech at Westminster prior to the announcement of the "Black List" of the 30 most influential figures of African or African-Caribbean heritage in English football.

Millwall deputy chairman Heather Rabbatts and Sheffield United chief executive Jason Rockett were included on the list - which was supported by the Kick It Out campaign - but representation in the administration of clubs is noted as being less proportional to playing staff.

While Paul Ince has become the Premier League's first black British manager, there is still progress to be made in boardrooms.

Triesman said: "It (the FA) has to be the best it can possibly be. There are tests of what that means, in my view, and one of them is whether it becomes more diverse internally and in all of its structures. That it promotes the struggle against racism and oppression.

"It has got to make good what we put in our vision - that it is a game open to and encouraging absolutely everybody."

Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of Kick It Out and the first black person to sit on the FA Council, feels the governing body for football in England have a key role to play.

"We're looking for the FA over a period of time to be a representative organisation," he said.

"We need to make sure there are opportunities for people different to come through - men and women, black and ethnic minorities - in the boardroom and at council level in committees."

Rabbatts added: "It is going to be difficult to break in at boardroom level but football is not alone, if you look at top plcs there is still very little black representation. It starts by a few of us making inroads."

Former Professional Footballers' Association chairman Garth Crooks wants to see the same representation on the pitch throughout the game.

"We'd like that 30 per cent to have a clear presence throughout the game. That is the future," he said.

Rabbatts believes those currently in boardrooms also need to support black coaches getting their UEFA badges, as she has done with Richard Shaw at Millwall.

"I'm very passionate about black players wanting to enter the world of management. It is still tough. I have Richard Shaw who has made a huge difference to us.

"I supported him becoming our reserve-team manager and getting on the managerial ladder. When you appoint new managers they bring their entourage with them and I was very clear with Kenny Jackett that I wanted Richard supported and kept.

"If we don't support the players wanting to make a breakthrough by supporting them through their licences, they will not make it. We have white managers who don't have licences and we find a way around it."

Meanwhile, PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor was among those to acknowledge the work in getting black players accepted in the sport but highlighted different areas which now need targeting.

He said: "We have new battles in other areas with anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia. It's not a perfect world and it's our job to work hard against it."