Racism: Society Thinks Blacks Are Stupid – Thuram

Former France international Lilian Thuram believes racial stereotypes are still preventing black coaches from getting top jobs in football.
There are very few non-white coaches at the top level throughout the major European leagues, despite there being an increasing ratio of black players fielded by the same teams.
Ex-Juventus and Barcelona defender Thuram is disappointed at the lack of progress in recent years and claims people within the game “doubt what black people can do”.
He said: “No, of course there’s not a misrepresentation of black people in French clubs,” he said with sarcasm to L’Equipe.
“It is quite normal that there are lots of black people who are players because they can be top athletes, they have the physical capability. But to be a coach you need intelligence and discipline…
“It is clear that society has that opinion. Since I was a child I was told ‘to be a coach you need to be able to come up with tactics’. There are people who doubt what black people can do.
“On the field, all is well. But the rest – coaches, executives, etc – it’s more complicated because society has these strong prejudices. When people doubt the intelligence of an ethnicity, it makes some positions unavailable.
“If you’re a black player or of North African [orign], you’re not stupid and if you see that there are not many coaches who are like you, you’re not going to be encouraged down that path.
“You’re definitely going to have trouble if you do want to go down that path, though. From the start, you’re discouraged. It takes references from others to make it possible, then you can project yourself.”
When asked if a lack of references from others was why Thuram has refrained from going down the path of becoming a coach when he hung up his boots in 2008, he said he knew it was not the job for him.
“I would have been an awful coach,” he conceded. “I would not have been forgiving at all, especially with the big name players.”
Thuram thinks some progress has been made on the pitch for black players but is concerned that positions of power remain out of reach.
“When I was younger, it was said that black players couldn’t play in defence – they were strong but they still made mistakes,” he added.
“Or goalkeepers – ‘black goalkeepers are super strong and agile but they have no concentration’, that’s what people thought.
“There are a lot of non-white players, but how can it be explained that on the benches there are still not many non-white coaches? It’s a problem and it must change.
“However, we must be careful when changing the status quo. Some people do not necessarily want to change anything because it would mean they are less likely to get a job in future. And that’s racism.
“Initiatives to guarantee non-white coaches a chance at being interviewed for vacant jobs are a step in the right direction. But there is still an awful lot of work to do to get to parity between races.”

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