January 29, 2020 / 1:11 AM / 19 days ago

Kompany believes diversity needs to start at the top

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian defender Vincent Kompany believes that racism in soccer can be truly tackled only when there is diversity in the boardroom, which he said was not the case at the moment.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Vincent Kompany's Testimonial - Manchester City Legends v Premier League All-Stars - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - September 11, 2019 Vincent Kompany waves to fans after the match Action Images via Reuters/Molly Darlington/File Photo

The former Manchester City captain said talk of stadium closures and bans for supporters was a red herring and the real issue was in the offices of soccer federations and clubs.

“If you go through the entire landscape of football ... every single board, every single management room will have no diversity,” he said during an event organised by the global players’ union FIFPro.

“There no representation whatsoever... As much as zero percent in most of those boardrooms.”

European football has been plagued by cases of racism with high profile incidents in Italy, England, the Netherlands and Bulgaria among others in the past few months.

Kompany, a member of FIFPro’s new Global Player Council which is designed to give players a greater voice, said it was wrong to focus just on repression.

“Somebody makes a monkey chant and we want to ban him for 10 years ... or deduct 15 points. But we are looking at the wrong issue,” said Kompany, who now plays for Belgian club Anderlecht.

“The issue is that people making the policies have absolutely no diversity, and that also means gender diversity, to even start a debate on what the most appropriate measure is.”

The 33-year-old said he was struggling to get his point across. “I have been saying this for two years and I’ve got nowhere,” he said.

“Nobody is walking through the corridors (of power) thinking this is a main topic,” he said.

He said those from ethnic minorities faced a “glass ceiling” when they tried to get into positions of power.

“You know from the start of your life that there are positions you are never going to get to ... because you didn’t grow up in this environment, you didn’t go to the same school as these guys,” he said.

“The best term is the glass ceiling... You are walking up those stairs and you see how high you can go and all of a sudden you bounce against this invisible wall where you can’t go up any further and everybody else can.”

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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