(Reuters) - The lack of black officials in English professional football is a problem that needs to be addressed and will only change if there is a more inclusive environment, referees chief Mike Riley said.
There have been no black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) referees in England’s top four divisions since Uriah Rennie retired in 2009.
“It is something that we need to address,” Riley, the managing director of the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL), told The Times.
“There is still a lot more to do, and we need to look at more flexible pathways and to make sure the environment is more inclusive.
“We need to take diversity really seriously and create opportunities for everyone. Actually it is in our interest, we want really good referees to come through.”
Riley said that the FA had made a big effort to increase diversity at the county level and that was beginning to bear fruit.
In 2014, the FA set a target of having 10% of referees at grassroots and elite level from BAME backgrounds.
The FA says 44 of 52 County FAs had achieved their 2018-19 BAME refereeing targets, which reflected the demography of the area.
“We have all got a responsibility to make sure that refereeing as a whole is representative, that it is inclusive and that the pathways work for everybody,” Riley said.
Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney