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Oct 25, 2012

Wenger takes issue with Rooney Rule

The former Newcastle and Manchester United striker talks about a potential Black Players' Union, the influence of 'Kick It Out' and the proposed introduction of the 'Rooney Rule'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the introduction of the Rooney Rule to try to boost the number of black coaches would be a "kind of racism," saying everyone must get jobs on merit alone.

The Professional Footballers' Association wants tougher penalties for racist abuse including making it potentially a fireable offense and culprits ordered to attend awareness programs as well as adopting ideas from the United States designed to promote equality in coach recruitment.

The initiative has proved a success in the U.S., where it was brought in by the National Football League to make sure qualified black coaches are on interview lists for job vacancies.

But Wenger feels any such enforced 'quota' system would go against the whole concept of unilateral equality.

"It is again a kind of racism and what we have all to fight for is just competence, to put people who are good -- are they white, black, red, no matter what color -- just put guys who have a competence in charge, and we have to fight for that," he said.

"I [have] always been against discrimination. Is it positive or negative? What they call it in France is 'positive discrimination'," added the manager. "I feel that no matter what job you do in life, you should just do it because you deserve to do it and you have the quality to do it."

Currently, Norwich boss Chris Hughton is the only black manager in the English top flight. He joins Ruud Gullit, the Premier League's first black manager when he joined Chelsea in 1995, Frenchman Jean Tigana and Paul Ince as the only black men to have managed in England's top league.

"You have to favor access for everybody to manage in football," Wenger said. "Just to put a quota out, for me is exactly against what sport has to be -- sport is about competition and competence.

"That will have exactly the opposite effect [to] what it should have. You can say as well then, 'why do you leave him out?' He's better than the guy in his place. [It is] just because you have a quota'.

Wenger feels there should be no issues with managers of any race or ethnic origin making it at the top level if they are good enough.

"I don't see any difference between black or white," the French coach said. "I could never understand that difference. You judge people on facts and on what they did in life. I never considered where you come from or what color you are. I think if you are good enough, you help people. We have to keep the priorities right -- that means people who want to do a job, who have the qualities to do a job, to give them the job."

Wenger feels sport can lead the drive for a change in society.

"Sport has one big advantage -- you can measure the performances of people, if you are good, you play," he said. "That we suddenly have that problem is for me quite surprising because overall I don't feel you ever leave any player out for a racial reason. You only field your best team and you just look at the quality of the players.

"There is no language problem (in sport) -- if you don't speak the language, you can still play with a player if you are good enough, therefore, there is very little discrimination in our job," Wenger added.

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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