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Considering Chris Hughton, Robin Fraser and Major League Socccer coaching diversity

Jan 28, 2013, 12:12 PM EST

Brad Knighton, Jay DeMerit, Juan Agudelo

As we approach Black History Month in February, it’s worth mentioning that Major League Soccer just lost its only black manager.

Highly respected Robin Fraser (pictured), recently dismissed from Chivas USA, held the distinction previously of being the only black head coach in MLS. (There are only two Latino managers in MLS, which seems even more surprising considering the player makeup, but that’s another topic.)

Related, this is an interesting piece from Goal.com on the challenges of being a black manager in England. Alex Labidou talked to Norwhich’s Chris Hughton about the lack of management diversity in England’s game. You’ll notice a lot of parallels from the NFL and how it struggles with diversity. Same deal: lots of black players, not nearly the same percentage of black coaches.

Says Labidou:

But what might stand out even more about Hughton’s progress is that he is currently the Premier League’s only black manager, and one of only four black head coaches – along with Charlton’s Chris Powell, Notts County’s Keith Curle and Barnet’s Edgar Davids – in England’s top-four divisions (that’s out of 92 possible positions). Considering that over 30 percent of players in England’s top four divisions are minorities, the fact that just over four percent of their coaches are not white is a growing concern for the country.

  1. mvktr2 - Jan 30, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    My interest only lie with following the two sports of college football and pro soccer. My reply here is the same as it is when people talk about the lack of minority head coaches in CFB. The issue generally has more to do with a dirth of candidates than anything else. Back when the ncaa/naacp and others were talking of forcing teams to interview minorities ah la NFL rules I said it was a bad idea. There are plenty of position coaches of color throughout college football and those men need to be interviewed for coordinators jobs as that’s where the majority of new head coaches are hired. If that occurs the progression becomes very natural. I’m not sure, but the numbers I’d guess are skewed similarly but less so in MLS.

    Another big issue with some of this is that generally in America overwhelmingly the soccer viewing public is caucasian and hispanic. Looking around the league you see a few hispanic coaches (2?) and caucasians. There is pressure from a hiring standpoint to hire first the best fit, best coach, best x-y-z for the job and part of that equation is hiring someone the supporters will back. On that front soccer fans in the US are some of the most tolerant sports fans on the planet, or at least that’s my perception.

    I think prejudice pays a far bigger part than does racism, and yes they are very different entities. From a college football perspective the people that must be pleased are the millionaire doners, that’s a lilly white group of folks in most places. Thus even if it’s not spoken, and I suspect this plays a big part in English soccer, there is a pressure to hire people whom wealthy supporters identify with.

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