Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has urged the Premier League and Football Association (FA) to address a lack of black representation in high positions.
Sterling has backed anti-racism protests in the UK after the death of George Floyd in the United States on May 25.
The England international said racism is the “only disease” to fight now and called on the authorities to include more black people at management level.
“This is a time to speak on these subjects, speak on injustice, especially in my field,” he told the BBC. “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.”
Floyd, who was black, died in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Chauvin, who was fired, has been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
The English Football League (EFL) introduced its own version of the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” last year in order for clubs to interview at least one Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidate for any first-team managerial position.
However, there are only four BAME managers in English football, with Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo being the only black Premier League manager.
Troy Townsend, head of development for anti-racism group Kick It Out, has criticised the policy and said it is “not fit for purpose.”
“There is a loophole that allows clubs not to be judged on the mandatory code because it has to be an ‘open recruitment’ process,” he told the Telegraph.
“Clubs are not bending any rules of the Rooney Rule if they already have a manager in place. If you are not holding an open recruitment process, you are not under pressure by the code. So that itself tells you it is not fit for purpose.
“We didn’t receive data after the pilot series. I’ve always questioned the sharing of data in general, whether that is reporting of incidents or the number of coaches going through a process and what learning they have gone through.”
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Sterling also said change will only happen when the FA start to appoint more black senior officials. When asked what would represent success, he added: “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.”
Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke also said he was unable to find a managerial role despite the help of ex-manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I’ve applied for the Villa job twice now,” he told BeIN Sports. “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.”