Who had heard of Jean-Marc Bosman before his court case? No one I bet. Yet here is a player who changed the face of football across the EU far beyond anything that Jimmy Hill had tried to do in the 60's. This blog though isn't about him. This blog is about Dan Rooney. Don't recognise the name? Some of the american football fans amongst us may, but for the others he may sound like Wayne Rooneys younger brother.
Dan Rooney is the chairman and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and he introduced a law into the NFL that changed the way jobs were awarded to the head coaches (footballs equivalent would be a manager). Before the law came into force in 2003 there were only two ethnic minority head coaches in the NFL. Before this there had only been 7 ethnic minority head coaches in the history of the NFL. His law stated that any person no matter what their ethnic background was entitled to an interview if they met the required coaching standard.
The Rooney Law has been getting a lot of press coverage in the UK press this week as Dan Rooney has met with Gordon Taylor the head of the PFA and also the FA as well. There are numerous people for and against this, in the paper today Neil Warnock is against it and Leroy Rosenior is for it so no surprises there really when you read their argumensts for and agaunst, by that I mean that Warnock states he thinks it isn't necessary but Rosenior thinks it is.
Football has come a long, long way from the 80's where black players like Luther Blisset, Viv Anderson and John Barnes had bananas thrown at them by fans in the Football League. It does still happen abroad with England games, the recent game against Bulgaria being an example of that. Fans have been educated as to what is and isn't acceptable, society has changed as well, but is the Rooney Law the way forward?
Is football still institutionally racist? By that I mean is there a feeling at the top of the game that minority managers aren't good enough? I can only think of four in recent years that have managed in the top flight, Chris Houghton, Paul Ince, Ruud Gullit and Jean Tigana. I think we all agree Ince was ready for top flight football for footballing reasons rather than the colour of his skin. Houghton was treated appallingly at Newcastle, Gullit got too big for his boots at Chelsea and Jean Tigana left Fulham too return to France. Were any of these managers dismissed for the colour of their skin or employed because of it? I don't think so no.
However saying all of that there is an issue within the game with the lack of black, and other minorities, progressing through to the managers jobs in football. I dont have a clue what happens when clubs interview managers or the criteria that is required. I've never worked at a football club, however I can see with my own eyes that the amount of black and other miniority players are not progressing through too management level. Are they being denied interviews? Do they not take the required coaching badges because they think there is no point as they won't even get interviewed?
What the Rooney Law states is that at least any interested party will be interviewed irrelevant of the colour of their skin. It doesn't mean you have to hire them if they are not the right candidate or don't have the right qualifications but at least they will stand an equal chance as everyone else. There have been a few players moaning that they don't even get the chance for an interview, Andrew Cole being one of them. As recent as 2003 the Denever Lions were fined $200,000 for failing to interview African American candidates for the vacant Head Coaches job.
So I guess my question is this, do we need Rooney's Law in the UK? Or are we okay as things are?. Personally I don't see the colour of a footballer or manager, all I see is a footballer and manager who happen to play and manage the club I support. If they give it 100% then I've no problem with that, if they don't then I'm entitled to voice my opinion about their commitment taking no notice of the colour of their skin. However would the Rooney Law encourage former players of different races to apply for manager jobs, coaching jobs and do their UEFA badges? If the answer is yes then I'm all for it.
What is your opinion though? I'd be interested too know. Ronneys Law, Yes or No?.