FA launches code to boost diversity at football's highest levels


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - October 26, 2020 General view of the match ball on a plinth before the match Pool via REUTERS/Michael Regan

(Reuters) - The Football Association launched a new drive to increase ethnic and gender diversity at the top levels of English soccer on Tuesday, setting out targets in a bid to reduce the role that personal networks have long played in top-level appointments.

More than 40 clubs across the Premier League, Football League, Women's Super League and Women's Championship have signed up to its Football Leadership Diversity Code, the FA said https://www.thefa.com/news/2020/oct/27/football-leadership-diversity-code-launched-271020, including 19 of the Premier League's 20 clubs.

But Southampton held back, saying it supported the idea but wanted to see how the new code and the Premier League Equality Standard would work together in practice before signing up.

One of the code's main aims is for clubs to move away from recruitment practices focused on personal networks - which the FA described as a "longstanding challenge" that had limited diversity in leadership across the game.

Avoiding outright quotas, the code instead sets out several hiring "targets", chief among them that 15% of new hires for senior leadership and team operation roles be Black, Asian or mixed-heritage, while 30% of new hires for these roles should be female.

But clubs will also be allowed to set their own targets based on local demographics, according to the code.

For normal coaching jobs, the target for men's clubs is for 25% of new hires to be Black, Asian or mixed-heritage, while for senior coaching roles it is 10%. Fifty percent of new coaching hires at women's clubs will be female while 15% will be Black, Asian or of mixed-heritage, the code says.

Shortlists for interviews must have at least one male and one female Black, Asian or mixed-heritage candidate as long as applicants meeting the job specifications apply, the code stipulates.

"Southampton are wholly supportive of the Football Leadership Diversity Code objectives," a Saints spokesperson said.

"At this time the club consider its most appropriate course of action to wait and understand how a revised Premier League Equality Standard and the Football Leadership Diversity Code will work together and complement each other before revising our recruitment targets and already established processes."

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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