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LONDON (AP) — English soccer launched a placement scheme on Monday to assist players from ethnic minority backgrounds moving into coaching to increase diversity in the dugout.

The scheme will be open to Professional Footballers' Association members from a Black, Asian or other ethnic minority background and will initially provide up to six coaches per season with a 23-month placement at a club across the three professional divisions below the Premier League.

“This is a critical time for Black, Asian and minority ethnic coaches," said Darren Moore, chairman of the Premier League’s Black Participants’ Advisory Group. “We all know and agree that the diversity of coaches and managers must increase and this placement scheme represents a positive step.”

The lack of representation of Black people in senior leadership roles in the sport has been in the spotlight because of the increased focus worldwide on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling has been among those questioning why so few Black former players have made the transition into coaching or other positions of power within clubs.

Since last year English Football League clubs have been required to interview at least one candidate from an ethnic minority background for every coaching or managerial vacancy when they run a full recruitment process with a shortlist.

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