BCOMS (The Black Collective of Media in Sport) founder Leon Mann believes the FA are going in the right direction with their diversity work.
This comes as a nice change from the drama that occurred with Greg Clarke having to resign from the FA after making offensive comments towards minority groups.
November wasn’t a good month for the FA, but like Football v Homophobia’s Sam Clarke says, there were a lot of positives to take from this moment.
How much responsibility do the FA have to change the diversity landscape within the ‘beautiful game’?
Social change within any institution usually requires a collaborative effort to ensure things change for the better.
And although other institutions within football like the clubs themselves and the league’s, have to play a part in moving the game forward, Mann believes the FA have the ‘biggest responsibility’.
He said: “The FA govern the game, so they have a huge responsibility in terms of ensuring that we have diversity across the game and educating that no one should be excluded or marginalised.
“It’s not solely their responsibility, but they have a large responsibility. Of course, there’s the clubs, there’s the leagues, and also the players union with many stakeholders who also have a big part to play.
“But the FA are the governing body and they have the biggest responsibility to set the right example.”
“I’ve spoken to the chief executive (Mark) on a number of occasions and I have a lot of faith in him.
How are the FA moving forward in the right direction?
Many groups who aim to strive for change within the football remit have been set up by fantastic individuals, with Mann being one of these people.
Mann explained how proud he is to see the growth and the impact BCOMS has had so far on the football media industry.
Not only Mann, but Jon Holmes has also been an influential person looking to help diversity within the football remit when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation.
The likes of BCOMS and Sports Media LGBT+ are key organisations which have the aim of trying to promote diversity and inclusion within the ‘beautiful game’ for minority groups.
It’s promising to see the likes of the FA take notice of these groups and work with them in the battle for equality and representation in football.
One example of the Football Association showing the support to these influential groups, came when BCOMS hosted the Gareth Southgate event in 2020 for ‘DotSM’ (Diversity of the Sports Media) students who were selected for the programme.
The fact the FA were so keen to get involved in this event demonstrated the hunger and drive the organisation have to help with diversity and inclusion in all areas when it comes to football.
This view is reflected by Mann when speaking about the positive relationship BCOMS and The FA have.
He said: “Our experience as part of BCOMS has changed significantly over the years, in terms of the work that we are doing with the FA, and this meant the level of communication has enhanced significantly.
“And in terms of how they are doing, I think the diversity code that they have brought in is a positive step in the right direction.
“I think that will help change things in football, and from the outside- there is definitely more of a collaborative approach which is absolutely necessary when driving forward for change.
“The key for the FA now is to push on together with groups like BCOMS to drive change, because in the past, governing bodies use to push on their own with their actions.
“And as a result, it can feel like communities can be ignored.
“But at this current moment, I have full confidence in the people at the FA to drive for the right change going forward.”
Was Greg Clarke’s reign at the FA just full of negatives?
Despite Clarke’s downfall after the offensive comments made in November 2020 about minority groups, it could be argued that he made some positive changes to certain regulations.
During the Clarke reign, the diversity code helped drive to include more black managers in English football set ups.
And Mann recognised these positives when reflecting on the Clarke reign.
“With Greg Clarke, he made an awful mistake,” Mann admitted. “And it’s something which was a real shame for him, because he did some really good things as being the head of the FA.”
Mann went on to add: “He accelerated change in terms reviewing certain things and driving change.
“Some really significant change including the recruitment change in the EFL.
“So a newer version of the Rooney rule, it’s not perfect, but a lot of leaders before him didn’t want to go near it.
“Greg got that over the line. He also introduced the increase representation of black coaches in English setups.
“He was part of that alongside Paul Elliot who was also very instrumental in all this work.
“So it would be unfair of me to sit here and just criticise him directly, because he did do things that previous leaders of the FA weren’t prepared to do.
“But yes, he had to go after those comments.”