Sol Campbell Claims His Race Cost Him England Captaincy

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2014

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Update from Monday, March 3

Sven Goran Eriksson has disputed Sol Campbell's claims that he was overlooked for the role of England captain due to his race.

As noted by, Campbell made 32 appearances under Eriksson, but the Swede brushed off the defender's accusations in quotes provided by the Telegraph's Ben Rumsby:

Not a chance - during my years, not a chance. As you know, from my first to my last game, I had David Beckham (as captain) and there were never, ever any discussions at all in the team or in the FA about the captain.


Original Text

Former England international Sol Campbell believes racial biases prevented him from becoming captain of the Three Lions on a permanent basis.

The shocking revelation is made in his upcoming autobiography, a portion of which was revealed to The Sunday Times:

"I believe if I was white, I would have been England captain for more than 10 years—it's as simple as that," Campbell said, per BBC Sport.

He went on to say that he doesn't believe the problem will get better, either:

I don't think it will change because they don't want it to and probably the majority of fans don't want it either.

It's alright to have black captains and mixed race in the Under-18s and Under-21s but not for the full national side—there is a ceiling and although no one has ever said it, I believe it's made of glass.

The Football Associated declined to comment on the former centre-back's claims.

Just a few months ago, Campbell said that he might have to move abroad if he wants to pursue a managerial career because of racial prejudices.

England doesn't have a great record when it comes to racism and football. It wasn't until 1978 that Viv Anderson debuted as the first black player to be called up to the national team. During the late 1980s and early '90s, black players like John Barnes were the subject of racist abuse.

Over time, though, the problem has somewhat subsided, at least in football grounds. Part of that is down to what's considered to be the more diehard supporter being priced out of the game since the advent of the Premier League. Another part is that people are simply becoming more educated.

While racism may never truly be eradicated for good, by the time that Campbell was a member of the England setup, you wouldn't have believed that his race was a roadblock to his possible captaincy.

Plus, Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren had no shortage of worthy candidates. As Sky Sports' Ian Watson posited, what would've made Campbell a better captain than either David Beckham or John Terry, at least until his racism row with Anton Ferdinand:

Also working against Campbell in one respect is that race didn't stop Rio Ferdinand from being named permanent national team captain in 2010.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24:  Rio Ferdinand, the England Captain, shouts out instuctions during the International Friendly match between England and Mexico at Wembley Stadium on May 24, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

It's impossible to fully understand where the former Tottenham and Arsenal star is coming from and what may have happened to make him believe that racism hindered his international career, as nobody can go back in time and step into his shoes.

The FA will likely take these critiques in stride and determine whether racism remains a problem with English football in all facets. If Campbell can at least make things better for those who come after him, he will have done a great thing.