The Professional Footballers’ Association took much of the English game by surprise on Wednesday by unveiling a six-point plan to tackle discrimination which included the implementation of a form of the ‘Rooney Rule’ in the American NFL.
The ‘Rooney Rule’ does not actually set any quota on the numbers of black managers within the NFL but does say that qualified black coaches should be on the interview list for vacancies.
Wenger, though, believes that football, and sport, can lead the way in anti-discrimination by definition of being a meritocracy.
“I feel that no matter what job you do in life, you should just do it because you deserve to do it and you have the quality to do it,” said the Arsenal manager.
“Just to put a quota out, for me, is exactly against what sport has to be. Sport is about competition and competence. That will have exactly the opposite effect to what it should have.”
“You can say as well then, ‘why do you leave him out?’ It’s again a kind of racism and what we have all to fight for is just competence.
“Put in people who are good, no matter what colour. I feel that sport can be a massive example for [the] fight against racism. Sport has one big advantage. You can measure the performances of people. If you’re good, you play.”
The PFA’s plan was also criticised yesterday for not being sufficiently far-reaching.
Peter Herbert, the chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, has been meeting some black players in recent weeks and believes that they should still set up an organisation within the PFA.
The SBL has published its own 10-point plan for football, which includes a 20 per cent target for all club staff, including managers, within three years, and an annual league table of those clubs who have made the most progress in addressing racism.
“The SBL welcomes the announcement of the six-point plan by the PFA, however this is too little too late given the pressure faced by the Ferdinand brothers and others for the stand they have taken against racism over the past year,” said Herbert.
“The PFA have rushed to issue a knee-jerk reaction. A fundamental shift is needed to address the segregated style glass ceiling that exists where black players are prevented from becoming coaches and managers.”