May 26, 2024

Former Cardiff City striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink asserts that many aspiring black managers are hesitant to pursue coaching badges due to their belief that they are not afforded an equitable opportunity in the industry. Hasselbaink, who recently joined England boss Gareth Southgate’s staff, reflects on his personal experience of applying for numerous coaching positions without securing interviews. He emphasizes the reluctance of many black ex-players to undergo coaching certification, attributing it to a perceived lack of fair chances.

The promotion of Burnley to the Premier League for the current season highlighted the ongoing disparity between the number of black players and managers in top-tier football. Vincent Kompany became the sole black manager in the Premier League, underscoring the broader issue that extends beyond the playing field. Hasselbaink shares his frustration at the limited interviews he has received despite his managerial journey that began in League Two with Burton in 2014 and included stints with QPR and Northampton.

He points out the double standard where black managers are often advised to start in lower leagues and work their way up, while white counterparts with similar profiles are not subjected to the same expectations. Hasselbaink cites examples like Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, and Sol Campbell, who share similar experiences. The former striker notes that the practical challenges of providing for one’s family often deter black managers from pursuing coaching careers, especially when they perceive a lack of equal opportunities.

Hasselbaink acknowledges the scarcity of black managers in top football leagues, citing instances of Vieira and Hope Powell being dismissed, leaving the English men’s and women’s top flights without a black manager until Kompany’s appointment. A January 2023 study commissioned by the Black Footballers Partnership revealed a stark underrepresentation of black individuals in management-related positions within football clubs compared to the percentage of black players on the field.

Despite these challenges, Hasselbaink commends Southgate for his inclusive approach and belief in his capabilities, emphasizing that Southgate does not distinguish based on race. The former Netherlands international expresses gratitude for the chance to work with Southgate and highlights the England manager’s fair treatment of individuals regardless of their background. Hasselbaink concludes with admiration for the talent in the England team and the unity he observes among players on the pitch.

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