Ex-Canaries boss believes football ‘has an opportunity’ to unite against racism
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Former Norwich City boss Chris Hughton has hailed the current generation of football players for speaking up about racial inequality and called for everyone within the game to unite against the evils of racism.
The 61-year-old former Tottenham Hotspur defender, who was born in London to a Ghanian father and an Irish mother, was in charge of the Canaries for 82 games between June 2012 and April 2014.
The former Newcastle boss was then in charge of Brighton for over four years but when he lost his job in 2019 it left Wolves chief Nuno Espirito Santo as the only Premier League manager from a BAME (black, Asian or minority ethnic) background.
Hughton has often spoken about the need for more BAME representation in the game and has fresh hopes of equality as worrying racial tensions in the US have prompted worldwide protests and conversations about movements such as the Black Lives Matter campaign.
“If I’m looking at the protests at the moment and wondering if it will change things, the answer is yes,” the former City boss said in a wide ranging interview with the Guardian newspaper.
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“One thing I absolutely applaud is that Raheem (Sterling) is not alone. These players have a platform. I’ve seen the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold speaking out and the Liverpool team going down on one knee before training.
“Where does the pressure on organisations come from? It comes from enough voices and enough dissatisfaction. A lot of those marching are young individuals. The fact they are seeing what a lot of people have seen for many years is encouraging. It’s going to be about pressure applied.
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“I think black players have been the most vocal because they have had those experiences. What I saw from Liverpool was powerful and I would applaud any organisation or club that felt the same.
“I think it would be more powerful if it came from white players as well. But it would be more powerful if it came from the game as a whole. The game has an opportunity. I know there have been false dawns in the past and stances which have lost momentum but the feeling is this is not going to go away for the time being. Our organisations have a good opportunity to be part of change.”
Hughton called for the need for more people from the BAME community to be involved in senior roles at clubs and within governing bodies, as well as within coaching, but did praise the Football Association’s move to ensure at least one BAME coach is involved with each England age group team.
He also praised the English Football League for implementing the Rooney Rule last year as a step in the right direction, which compels clubs to interview at least one BAME candidate when hiring a new manager
Hughton, whose playing days spanned from 1977 to 1993 and also included time at West Ham and Brentford, added: “When I was a player the mentality was black people would make good players but weren’t captain material or managerial material.
“That stereotyping existed. Racism doesn’t go overnight. It’s over a period of time and education. Some things stick. Do I think those stereotypes still exist? I do.”