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SBD Global/October 25, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

PFA Announces Six-Point Plan To Combat Racism

The Professional Footballers' Association has announced a six-point plan to tackle race discrimination that includes tougher penalties and instant sackings for racist abuse and the introduction of the "Rooney rule" to boost the numbers of black coaches. The plan was announced by PFA CEO Gordon Taylor, and comes in response to players who expressed frustration over their union, which included talk of a breakaway organization for black players. Most of the points on the PFA action plan would have to be agreed by the FA and the leagues, which say they will study the proposals. Taylor outlined the PFA's action plan in a statement to the PA. The FA is due to issue a response to the government before the end of the year following a summit on tackling racism in football in May, on behalf of all of the game. The PFA's action plan will feed into that response, although there is no guarantee all the points will be supported by the FA. The Premier League said it would discuss the PFA plan with its 20 member clubs (PFA).

The BBC reported that the six points in the PFA's plan are:
  • Speeding up the process of dealing with reported racist abuse with close monitoring of any incidents.
  • Consideration of stiffer penalties for racist abuse and to include an equality awareness program for culprits and clubs involved.
  • An English form of the "Rooney rule" -- introduced by the NFL in '03 -- to make sure qualified ethnic minority coaches are on interview lists for job vacancies.
  • The proportion of black coaches and managers to be monitored and any inequality or progress highlighted.
  • Racial abuse to be considered gross misconduct in player and coach contracts (and therefore potentially a sackable offence).
  • Not losing sight of other equality issues such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Asians in football (BBC, 10/24).

In London, Owen Gibson reported that the move came after Championship Reading striker Jason Roberts "made it clear" that his refusal to wear a Kick It Out anti-racism T-shirt in last weekend's warm-up "was not intended as a slight on that organisation but as a call to arms to the PFA and football authorities." Roberts said, "The last generation suffered from monkey chants, and we have to move it forward from simply being happy that we no longer get that. I'm not just happy to be here where we are. We should have the same opportunities as other people to get into management and coaching." Both Roberts and ManU player Rio Ferdinand, who also refused to wear the Kick It Out T-shirt, have "distanced themselves from suggestions of a new breakaway union for black players." Roberts also reaffirmed his support for Kick It Out (GUARDIAN, 10/24).

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