London: Former England defender Sol Campbell believes he would have been national team captain for more than 10 years if he was white, according to extracts from his new biography that is being serialised by The Sunday Times.
Campbell, 39, who was born in east London to Jamaican parents, claimed the FA decided it could not have a black face leading the England side on a regular basis.
“It’s crazy,” he was quoted as saying in extracts from biography. “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.”
The FA has declined to comment on the claims.
Former Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal defender Campbell, who has 73 caps, captained England under Glenn Hoddle against Belgium in 1998 aged 23 years and 248 days when he became their second youngest skipper after World Cup-winner Bobby Moore.
He was given the armband again by Hoddle against the Czech Republic, also in 1998, and led his country out against the United States in 2005 when Sven-Goran Eriksson was manager.
Campbell played at three World Cups, featuring in 10 games and scoring once, plus three European Championships before announcing his retirement in 2012, having been released by Newcastle United the previous year.
“I think the FA wished I was white,” added Campbell. “I had the credibility, performance-wise, to be captain... and I was a club captain early on in my career at Spurs. I believe if I was white, I would’ve been England captain for over 10 years.”
Consider the comments of the former FA chairman David Maxim Triesman who, after leaving his post in 2011, was heavily critical of English football’s governing body. “It is more likely if he [Campbell] was white that he would have captained England on more occasions. I don’t subscribe to the view that it [the FA] was consciously racist but I think there is an assumption of a type of person who should captain England.”
Having said that, Triesman added: “The team [selection] rests solely with the manager. I cannot remember anyone ever saying you should pick X or Y. Last time it happened was with Alf Ramsey and he told the FA where to go. [In my time at the FA] I was a great enthusiast for Rio Ferdinand to captain England but it was Fabio Capello’s choice for John Terry and I left it at that.”
Campbell also said he did not understand why former Liverpool striker Michael Owen was made captain ahead of him.
“The more caps I won, the further away I seemed to be pushed from becoming captain,” said Campbell, who won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with Arsenal, a League Cup with Tottenham and another FA Cup with Portsmouth.
“I played well, acted honourably on and off the field, but there was little recognition. Owen was a fantastic forward but nowhere near being a captain. It was embarrassing. I kept asking myself: ‘what have I done?’
“I’ve asked myself many times why I wasn’t (made captain). I keep coming up with the same answer. It was the colour of my skin.”
Campbell said the soccer hierarchy needed to “change its mentality” and “get more people from other backgrounds, Black and Indian, and get them involved in the leadership of the game.