Bobby Barnes becomes first black member on UEFA disciplinary panel

PFA Deputy CEO, Bobby Barnes

PFA Deputy Chief Executive, Bobby Barnes has been appointed to the UEFA Disciplinary Panel, joining the Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body. 

Further to statutory changes adopted by the UEFA Congress in March - which now allow, in addition to the UEFA National Associations,  the ECA, European Leagues and the UEFA administration to propose members for the UEFA Organs for the Administration of Justice – Bobby Barnes was included alongside new members appointed to the UEFA Disciplinary Bodies with a view to allow for more diversity in the composition of these bodies. 

Barnes, who is the European President of the international players’ union FIFPRO, has vowed to demand a new hard-line approach on racism within the sport. Barnes himself was subject to racist abuse as a player and has spoken about his plans to tackle the problem that he does not believe has been dealt with to an acceptable standard. 

Barnes told Sky Sports: “We seem to have had the same conversation now over a number of years. I am talking back to my own experiences over 40 years, and the fact we are still talking about anti-racism measures 40 years on, it's a failing. 

"We have all become a little complacent and thought that the job had already been done. Certainly, recently we have seen it creep back into our stadiums and in a nasty way online. The fact that people can act like that with impunity really concerns me." 

In October 2019, following sanctions issued by UEFA to Bulgaria after racist incidents in the crowd against England, the PFA expressed its disappoint with the level of the sanctions applied and called for guidelines to be overhauled.

We also highlighted the lack of BAME representation on UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Committee, which we believed was influencing how racist incidents were dealt with by the panel.

We welcome this initial first step by UEFA, as we believe it is vital to have BAME representation at board level, across stakeholders and clubs.

While we now have a significant number of black players represented across the domestic leagues, the current climate highlights the lack of BAME representation in areas of the game beyond the pitch. 

Earlier this week, the PFA joined the social media initiative #pullupforchange. In doing so, the players’ union encouraged the leagues, clubs, governing bodies, sports broadcasters, community foundations, sports charities, brands and sponsors to publicly share the level of diversity within their organisations. This transparency could be a significant step toward tackling systemic racism within football.

As part of this process, the PFA has released its own diversity statistics in relation to black representation within the union, and today we have called for substantive BAME representation at board level at The FA, EFL, LMA and Premier League, for the beginning of the 2020/21 season.