Former Chelsea star Paul Elliott
The Daily Telegraph have published an in-depth interview with former Chelsea and Celtic star Paul Elliott, in which he discusses the lack of black managers in the British game.
From The Daily Telegraph:
Just as he challenged centre-forwards with such expertise, Paul Elliott now tackles racism in England and in Europe. He claims that Paul Ince has to work harder to get a top managerial job because of his skin colour and that the Continent is "20 years behind the UK" in combating discrimination.
Beginning at Charlton Athletic, Elliott built a name for himself as a cultured centre-half, moving on to Luton Town, Aston Villa, Pisa, Celtic and finally Chelsea. Now 44, the former England B international advises everyone from the European Parliament to Uefa on how best to fight racial prejudice.
Awarded an MBE for services to youth football and anti-racism initiatives, Elliott is heavily involved in the Kick It Out campaign adopted for Euro 2008 by Uefa's forward-thinking president, Michel Platini. There are hoardings at matches, half-time films attacking bigotry and anti-racism conferences. Passionate and eloquent, Elliott has already made one well-received speech here and returns shortly to address another symposium.
Even though racism has been confronted successfully in England on the terraces and in dressing rooms, Elliott believes a glass ceiling exists for black managers at the highest level. Ince is being linked with Blackburn Rovers, but he has needed to climb his way up.
"If you look at his [playing] peers, Gareth Southgate and Roy Keane, they have come straight in at the top level, haven't they?" said Elliott. "If you compare Paul Ince's CV with theirs, he is just as impressive head-to-head.
"There is a dinosaur mindset which shouldn't be in existence. Paul is a pioneer as a manager with what he achieved at Macclesfield Town and MK Dons. He has been outstanding. There is no doubt there is a pending move to the Premier League for him. You look at Paul, and are not looking at the colour of his skin. You look at him and say: 'He's a damned good manager.'?"
When Ince does bring his intelligence to a Premier League dugout, he will prove a beacon of inspiration for other black managers. "Paul will ignite it and be a catalyst for others," agreed Elliott. "There are others below him and we have to encourage more. Paul Davis [ex-Arsenal] is doing great work with the PFA.
"Thirty per cent of players in the game are black but there are only two black managers: Paul Ince and Keith Alexander. We have lost a generation of potentially good managers. Look at the multi-cultural country we live in, and the diversity within the game, and that has to be reflected in the boardrooms and administrative worlds. It isn't.
"Wrighty [Ian Wright] and Les Ferdinand have spoken out against it. A lot of those in the system say: 'If that is what is happening at the top level, I don't see any chance for me.' They feel disillusioned, disenfranchised and they walk away. Paul Ince is a role model. It will breed confidence in others.
"When Laurie Cunningham and Viv Anderson came into the game, they were key role models, and that created confidence. They showed the stereotypical managers at the time they could do a job at the top level. That breaks down an insular mind."
Elliott stressed that it was about quality as well as equality. "If you want to get there on your own merits, you have to be qualified. Then you are in shark-infested waters and you have to work hard, get connected to people and when the right opportunities come, you are in the frame for the job."
Elliott can see a day when England appoint a black manager. "Why not? Someone as prominent as Frank Rijkaard has managed Barcelona and Holland. We all know the positive contribution black players have made to this game. In England, on the field and in the terraces, there isn't a problem but in the early Eighties, it was horrific with the banana throwing and the BNP."
Europe remains the battleground in the war against racism. "I went to Italy back in '87," said the former Pisa defender. "What they don't have in Italy and Spain is integration. It's them and us. Immigrants are marginalised from mainstream society.
"So when I played in Italy, there was booing and monkey chants when I was in possession of the ball. I take my family to Sardinia every year for our holidays, and Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world but discrimination is still very prominent in Italy. The Ultras bring that extremism.
"In the UK we are 20 years ahead. Luis Aragones is still there [as Spain coach despite his racist comment about Thierry Henry]. In the 21st century, that is unacceptable. The Manchester City boy, Nedum Onuoha, in the England Under-21s got abuse in Serbia last year. There is a big problem in eastern Europe."
Poland and Ukraine stage the next Euros but Elliott is convinced Uefa are now more hard line. "Platini has a zero tolerance mindset to discrimination and inequality. Uefa are showing themselves to be 'the Daddy'. All agencies are showing tremendous leadership."
And Elliott is leading the way in tackling racism.
From The Daily Telegraph