Raheem Sterling demands English football to give black managers a chance

Raheem Sterling has called for English football to seize the moment and finally address its lack of black representation in positions of power.

The Manchester City and England forward made the comments during an appearance on the BBC’s flagship political programme, Newsnight, in the wake of anti-racism protests that have taken hold across the world. Advance clips had shown the 25-year-old offering his support to those who have taken to the streets in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in the United States, but the full interview with Emily Maitlis saw him focus on matters closer at hand.

Reflecting on his own sport, Sterling pointed a finger at the long-running disparity between the number of high-profile BAME players and the dearth of those who go on to win significant managerial, coaching or administrative jobs. Sterling cited the respective fortunes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who have landed top roles at Rangers and Chelsea in the early stages of their management careers, as compared to equally experienced black players who have been compelled to start much lower down the ladder.

“This is a time to speak on these subjects, speak on injustice, especially in my field,” said Sterling. “There’s something like 500 players in the Premier League and a third of them are black and we have no representation of us in the hierarchy, no representation of us in the coaching staffs. There’s not a lot of faces that we can relate to and have conversations with.

“With these protests that are going on it’s all well and good just talking, but it’s time that we need to have conversations, to be able to spark debates.

“There’s Steven Gerrard, your Frank Lampards, you have your Sol Campbells and you have your Ashley Coles. All had great careers, all played for England. At the same time, they’ve all respectfully done their coaching badges to coach at the highest level and the two that haven’t been given the right opportunities are the two black former players.

“I feel like that’s what’s lacking here, it’s not just taking the knee, it is about giving people the chance they deserve.”

Sterling also feels there is a lack of representation in the game’s governance, suggesting a more diverse mix is needed in the corridors of power. Asked what would represent success for the change movement, he said: “When there’s more black people in positions. When I can have someone from a black background for me to be able to go to in the FA with a problem I have within the club. These will be the times that I know that change is happening.”

The former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker Dwight Yorke also bemoaned his struggles in the managerial market, revealing even a hand from Sir Alex Ferguson could not help him earn a shot at another of his old clubs. He told BeIN Sports: “I’ve applied for the Villa job twice now. I get one response from the CEO and his response to me was I need experience.

“Where am I going to go and get experience if I’m not being given a chance? When I applied for the Villa job, I went into [Ferguson’s] office and told him exactly what I was trying to do. He gave me some experience, he told me what I needed to do and I picked his brain. At the same time, he picked the phone up and rang Villa for me to give his recommendation. With his help, I still can’t get an interview. That is what we are facing.”

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