Sarina Wiegman hopes the England squad will be more racially diverse in the longer term.
Former Lionesses defender Anita Asante believes the path to elite women’s football needs to be reformed to achieve greater diversity, with just three of Wiegman’s 23-member Euro 2022 squad being left. black, Asian or mixed origin.
England’s first group game against Austria marked a turning point for women’s football with a predominantly young and female crowd of almost 69,000 packed into Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, underlining the progress made by the women’s football in England in recent years.
But there was also something else noticeable to many in England and beyond – especially once it was shared on social media: England fielded an all-white starting XI against England. Austria.
write in The GuardianAsante said, “Young girls who can’t see anyone who looks like them are running out of heroines to emulate – and that matters.”
She called for a more imaginative approach to scouting in urban areas and city centres, and for more resources to be allocated to the scouting network in women’s football.
She also pointed to the issue around the often suburban location of clubs’ training grounds, which she says can make access more difficult for black and white children from working-class backgrounds.
Asante, who was appointed first-team coach at Bristol City on Tuesday, was keen to stress that his comments were not intended to criticize Wiegman or his side, who will face Spain in the quarter-finals of Euro 2022 in Brighton on Wednesday. night.
The former Netherlands coach, speaking ahead of that game, said she hoped a more diverse talent pool would be available in the future.
“I think football needs inclusion and diversity,” Wiegman said.
“So absolutely anyone who wants to be involved in football, in any position, play the game or do anything else, should be welcome. I know the FA have strategies in place to reinforce that, to getting more diversity in the game, so it’s something longer term.
Williamson: diversity a priority for the FA
England captain Leah Williamson said in the press conference before facing Spain:
“We’re happy as a group of players because a lot of the girls are also very passionate. We all are, but I’ve heard a few speak very well at the FA and it’s been received as well as we are. hoped. .
“It’s definitely a priority for them and we’re on the right track to get it ready for these young girls. This tournament is going to inspire a lot more young girls to want to play football.
“No one should then be denied the opportunity to get involved. It’s something we are passionate about and thankfully the FA too. Hopefully we will see the effects in the future.”
“So I hope that in the longer term we will have more diversity, also in the national team.
“I think right now, for me, I don’t care if somebody’s black, white, everybody knows that – I just pick the players that I think are the best to play the best level. It’s short-term, but hopefully in the future there’s more diversity.”
In May, the Football Association announced plans, backed by the Premier League, to create a wider and more diverse talent pool for women’s football, with improved accessibility among five identified areas for improvement.
There needs to be a wider national network of what will be called emerging talent hubs for girls aged 8 to 16, and the FA’s director of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell, has expressed confidence in the plans and the “Discover My Talent” project launched last summer. will help create “meaningful change” in terms of diversity at the top of English women’s football.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has launched the ‘See It Achieve It’ campaign led by former Liverpool, Everton, Notts County and Brighton player Fern Whelan.
The aim is to create a network for current Women’s Super League players from ethnic minorities, where they will benefit from peer-to-peer mentorship and tailored support. objective.
The union says there are 29 out of 300 players of black, Asian or mixed background in the WSL.
What is the diversity of Euro 2022?
The tournament has yet to reveal numbers based on diversity and Sky Sports News has contacted each of the participating football associations to request this information.
Germany said Sky Sports News they had two ethnically diverse footballers in their squad, Iceland and Belgium both reported a player. Austria have no non-white players in their squad, while Denmark said they do not have such information on the squad.
But there has been a distinct lack of visible ethnic diversity on the ground…
How to compare the lack of diversity of Euro 2022?
Research presented by Leon Mann MBE at ‘D-Word 4’ conference organized by the Black Sports Media Collective provides context to the England figures.
Mann revealed that Gareth Southgate’s England squad for last summer’s Men’s Euro included 11 out of 26 players – 42 per cent – of black or mixed background.
According to the Black Footballers Partnership – co-founded by QPR duo Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey, former Birmingham and Derby full-back Michael Johnson and former top-flight player Eartha Pond – some 43% of Premier League players are Le black.
But when it comes to the Women’s Super League, the top division of women’s football in England, the Professional Footballers’ Association revealed last week that only 29 of the WSL’s 300 players – 9.7 per cent – come from ethnic backgrounds. diverse ethnicities.
In Phil Neville’s England squad at the last Women’s World Cup, there were two ethnically diverse players in the squad – Nikita Parris and Demi Stokes. The same two players are in Wiegman’s squad and remained unused substitutes in England’s win over Austria.
These figures are a clear reminder of the chronic problem of under-representation within the elite of women’s and women’s football.
British South Asians in football
For more stories, features and videos, visit our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and the South Asians in the Game blog and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital platforms.