London: More than half the respondents to a British online poll of 1,000 soccer fans including current and former players believe racism is the reason for the lack of black managers in English soccer.
The poll was designed and conducted by Ellis Cashmore and Jamie Cleland from Staffordshire University and their conclusions published in the journal "Ethnic and Racial Studies".
"The number of black and minority ethnic managers in English professional soccer has been stable for nearly 10 years," Cashmore and Cleland wrote.
"There are usually between two and four (out of a possible 92). Yet black players regularly make up more than a quarter of professional club squad.”
"The findings indicate 56 percent of respondents believe racism operates at the executive levels of football, i.e. the boardroom.”
"While some accuse club owners of directors of deliberate discrimination, most suspect a form of unwitting or institutional racism in which assumptions about black people`s capacities are not analysed and challenged and continue to circulate."
Cashmore, a Professor of Culture, Media and Sport, and Cleland, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology, said black players had been a "substantial presence" in English soccer since the late 1970s.
But, they said, blacks` involvement in soccer effectively concluded at the end of their active playing careers and most of the participants in the poll believed there would be no dramatic change.
"I did think that (former Chelsea and Newcastle United manager) Ruud Gullit would be the start of a change in attitudes,` one fan reflected. `But it was not to be. As for doing something about it, this is difficult as you can`t force a chairman to appoint a black manager can you?”
"Another fan stated: `The boards have very few ethnic minorities within them and are more likely to be the issue rather than the players or backroom staff. I think the structural issues around the FA and leagues are the big problem.”
"It`s an old boys` club with little understanding about the fans and (it is) unlikely to bring in people from outside their peer group."
The authors said soccer had turned into an entertainment industry in recent years.
"If it were a circus, black players would be part of its main attraction: like lions perhaps, but rarely lion tamers and never ringmasters," they concluded.