Dan Rooney is a hot topic of conversation in the news in Europe this week, and it has nothing to do with his position as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.
Instead, Rooney’s name is being mentioned in places like the BBC and the Guardian newspaper because there’s an ongoing debate about whether English soccer needs to adopt its own version of the Rooney Rule.
When Rooney was running the Steelers, he persuaded his fellow owners to adopt the rule that now bears his name, mandating that at least one minority candidate has to be interviewed for every head-coaching vacancy. The rule is widely viewed as a successful endeavor to expand opportunities for minority coaching candidates, and now there are growing calls for English soccer to model its own rules on the hiring of coaches after the Rooney Rule.
Gordon Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers’ Association told the BBC that he has studied the Rooney Rule and admires the NFL for adopting it.
“We have got to learn from other sports and other countries, and we saw how many top quality Black gridiron players there were and how few Black coaches,” Taylor said. “But they came in with that rule and it’s made a difference, and now it’s become assimilated into the culture of the NFL.”
The Guardian reports that, with only two black managers out of 92 clubs in English soccer, there’s growing fan support for the Rooney Rule even though “British culture tends to oppose any type of compulsion.”
Although it was controversial when implemented, almost everyone associated with the NFL agrees that the Rooney Rule has been a success. It’s no surprise that the rule is now expanding, even across the Atlantic.