Former England manager was told not to pick too many black players by FA
Former England manager Graham Taylor was told not to play too many black players in the national team by the FA hierarchy. According to a section in a new book by Emy Onuora about racism in sport, Pitch Black, an anti-racism campaigner claimed that Taylor admitted to him that he was asked by the men at the top that he should not go beyond a certain limit in relation to playing black players in the team.
This revelation by Taylor is said to be given to the guest speaker, Richie Moran, during a function at Watford’s ground during the 1999-2000 season. Moran, who was a Birmingham City player in the last decade of the 20th century, had to quit the game due to the racial abuse he suffered. Moran admitted:
“Graham Taylor came up to me and said: ‘Look, I’m going to tell you something … I’m never going to admit it, I will be sued for libel.’ He said: ‘When I was manager of England I was called in by two members of the FA, who I won’t name …’ I volunteered two names. He said: ‘I’m not prepared to say, but I was told in no uncertain terms not to pick too many black players for the national side.’”
- Richie Moran recalls in the book.
When asked about the allegation, Taylor, who managed England from 1990 to 1993, stayed clear of the subject, neither confirming nor denying it. He, however, said that nobody could say that he was unfair to players based on their colour.
He said, “That is not me trying to evade it – and it also doesn’t mean I didn’t say it – but if anyone looks at my record with club and country it would be obvious to everyone anyway that I didn’t follow what was apparently said. If anyone looks at my record, I could never be accused of blocking the way for any black player.”
The author of the book wrote that the FA, who had constructed a white image of the three Lions, were trying to preserve the way public perceived the team.
“Moran’s revelation reveals that the FA’s primary concern was to preserve a predominantly white image of the England team, an image that they themselves had constructed and took great steps to preserve,” Onuora speculated.
“There is no question of Taylor having acted on those instructions, but the episode raises some important questions as to how many other England managers were given the same instructions and, therefore, felt pressurised to limit the numbers of black players selected to play for the national side.
“During his playing career, Paul Davis had wondered whether some kind of unofficial quota system was in operation, but had never considered it beyond mere speculation. It would raise the question of how many black players had had their chances of playing for England restricted and what impact this might have had on England’s fortunes,” Onuora penned in his book.
Taylor is famous for taking Watford, a club he was chairman of from 2009-2012, from fourth division to first in just 5 years.