Les Ferdinand, the renowned former striker, served as Queens Park Rangers’ director of football for eight years before stepping down ahead of the new Championship season. He believes that some of the criticism he faced in this role was racially motivated.
Ferdinand, now 56, transitioned into coaching following his retirement in 2006 and spent six years working with Tottenham. In 2014, he assumed the role of QPR’s head of football operations, and a year later, he was promoted to director of football before departing in June.
Towards the end of his tenure at QPR, Ferdinand encountered criticism, as the team struggled in the Championship, currently placed 22nd in the league and facing relegation with only two wins under Gareth Ainsworth this season. While acknowledging some shortcomings in his work, Ferdinand insists that he was unfairly criticized due to his race. He also shed light on the limited opportunities for people of color in management roles within football.
Ferdinand shared his experiences during an episode of the Kammy and Ben’s Proper Football Podcast with Chris Kamara and Ben Shephard, stating, “Some of the criticism that came was because of my color.”
He emphasized that his competence, or lack thereof, as a director of football should not be attributed to his race. Instead, it should be based on his abilities.
Ferdinand felt that he played a pioneering role at QPR due to the limited opportunities available for the black community in football. A recent report by the Black Football Partnership revealed that only 4.4 percent of black individuals held management-related positions in the sport.
Ferdinand pointed out that numerous directors of football keep receiving chances in the industry, regardless of their success rates. He stated, “That’s not quite correct… and it’s the same as management.” He cited examples like Paul Ince and Darren Moore, who faced challenges despite their accomplishments.
Ferdinand is actively involved in an organization supporting black players seeking roles in football management, mentioning that over 200 current and former professionals are struggling to break into these positions due to a lack of opportunities.
Although Ferdinand is best known for his illustrious playing career, representing clubs such as QPR, Tottenham, and Leicester and making 17 appearances for England’s senior team, he is now advocating for greater diversity and opportunities within the football industry.