England manager Gareth Southgate has urged football to rid itself of its white privilege problem as he revealed he had witnessed the blockage of black coaches and staff from prominent positions.
With anti-racism protests spreading worldwide following the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd, the spotlight has turned to discrimination within the football world.
Manchester City star Raheem Sterling says tackling racism is the most important issue society faces and that he believes that former Three Lions stars Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole have been given fewer opportunities in their coaching careers than team-mates Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.
Southgate believes the hindrance of black coaches and staff is football's 'biggest crime' and called for the career path to be equal for all.
"I think Ashley Cole is developing very well and on a similar route to what Steven did – in that Steven worked in Liverpool’s academy for a couple of years,” Southgate said.
"On a broader scale, we lack that representation. The biggest crime for us in any area, if we’re adults looking at kids, is if they sit and think that a path in life isn’t possible. And is not accessible.
"I heard Jermain Defoe say a few days ago: ‘Is it worth me taking my [coaching] qualifications?’
"We have to avoid the feeling that you can’t achieve something because that stops some people going for it.
"We have to make sure the opportunity is there when people are qualified and capable. And then, of course, they have to grasp that opportunity.
"If they can do well, they’ll role model what’s possible to the next generation.”
Southgate moved into football management as head of coach of Middlesbrough in 2006 after a distinguished playing career at the Teeside club, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, while also making 54 appearances for England.
He recognised he most likely wouldn't have been given that chance at Middlesbrough if it wasn't for his standing at the club and he feels that is a situation that would not happen for others.
"I know that I got an opportunity at Middlesbrough when I wasn’t qualified," Southgate said. "That came because I had worked at the club and the owner knew me.
"But I couldn’t say that opportunity would have been there for somebody else. And I think we are all very conscious of it.
"The power of what is happening at the moment is that people are standing together and these observations, these deeper-seated issues are rightly leading to the broader debate on opportunity, on privilege, and it’s important people speak out. I do feel there is a moment for change but I’m also conscious that we’ve been here before.
"People have spoken brilliantly over the last week – people like Troy Townsend, Chris Grant and David Olusoga. A lot of that will be uncomfortable for white people, in particular, but they are critical voices to be heard.
"It’s also important to hear from white voices because ultimately they are going to be in the positions to open up opportunity. We are the ones who have to be educated."