By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) – Former Arsenal defender Sol Campbell is to work in the England Under-21’s coaching setup as part of the Football Association’s drive to increase opportunities for black, Asian, minority ethnic (BAME) coaches in all levels of the national team.
Campbell, who has criticised the lack of top-level management openings for himself and other BAME coaches, will work with England U21 manager Aidy Boothroyd in November, the FA said in a statement on Wednesday.
“I’ve accepted to go with England Under-21s with Aidy Boothroyd,” the 44-year-old former England international told talkSPORT.
“It’s for the friendlies against Germany at home and Italy away. For me, what’s happening there is great.”
Former Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Terry Connor will also work with the U21s for this month’s Euro 2019 qualifiers against Andorra and Scotland. England only need a point to secure their place at next year’s tournament.
England’s governing body also announced that as part of their inclusion strategy, titled ‘In Pursuit of Progress’, Brighton & Hove Albion’s first team coach Paul Nevin will join Gareth Southgate’s senior staff for matches against the United States and Croatia at Wembley next month.
The strategy, launched in August, aims to provide opportunities around gender and ethnicity across all age groups of the men’s and women’s England teams.
Its creation followed fierce criticism of the FA’s lack of diversity, particularly from former non-executive director and board member Heather Rabbatts who stood down last year citing a lack of progress on the issue.
“While we recognise English football has a long way to go in boosting diversity across our coaching community, this is a step in the right direction,” FA technical director Dan Ashworth said.
“There are a lot of talented coaches who just need the opportunity. I am particularly pleased we have been able to put together a programme that will allow them the flexibility to come in and work at St. George’s Park when their schedules permit.”
Nevin said he was “absolutely delighted” to get the call to work with Southgate’s England squad, who reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia earlier this year.
“I’m aware of the need to give opportunities to the quality BAME coaches out there and I think The FA are leading the way on that,” Nevin said.
“Sometimes it’s easier to give that exposure to coaches at the younger age groups, but to do it at the very highest level in that environment speaks volumes about how serious The FA takes the issues of giving BAME coaches opportunities.”
The FA added that positions would be announced in the near future in the women’s teams. They will also commit to ensuring at least one BAME candidate will be interviewed for every role, providing they meet the selection criteria.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Louise Heavens)