Bobby Barnes, the deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, told Sky Sports News is he "very proud" to be appointed as the first black member of UEFA's control, ethics and disciplinary body.
Barnes, who joined the PFA full time in 1996 after retiring as a player, was one of six appointments to the board along with Scottish football chief executive Neil Doncaster and FAI's Aine Power.
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The 57-year-old told Sky Sports News following his appointment: "I'm very proud to be the first BAME candidate to be put forward onto the UEFA disciplinary commission.
"It's a bit like a police force or any other body that does seek to either make judgement or give opinion on a set of people; I think it helps if you've walked in those shoes and have an understanding of the issues.
"I think there's been a lot of frustration, that people feel that these commissions can be seen as out of touch and not have an understanding of the issues."
With Marcus Rashford recently praised by Boris Johnson among others for forcing a government U-turn on free school meals and Raheem Sterling having launched his own social media campaign as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, Barnes is pleased to see black players speaking about important issues at the forefront of the game, but adds more representation is needed in the board room.
"There's too small a group of people who look like me at the top level, and I'm just really pleased that the players are not only acknowledging that, they're now pressing for change and wanting to see more people in their own image in positions of power," he said.
"Every march starts with one small step. This is one small step. I very much hope that in the future I won't be that rarity, not just in the UEFA meeting room but in all the meeting rooms that I go into."
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There have been several incidents where racism has reared its ugly head in football, including England's Euro 2020 Qualifier against Bulgaria, something Barnes says he wants to stamp out immediately.
"You see some of the things that happen, in particular in some parts of eastern Europe, where it's a little bit of a throwback to what was going on in the 70s and 80s," he said.
"It's really just a case of trying to impress upon those that are on the panel with myself that we thought we'd left this sort of stuff behind 30 or 40 years ago and we haven't.
"We have a responsibility to make sure that we're not talking about these situations in another 40 years' time. We have an opportunity to send a message that racism and discrimination of any sort is not welcome in the game.
"We have to make sure that there are strong deterrents that actually deter those that would come to the game not just wanting to enjoy a game of football but to wreak havoc and to cause discord.
"Those are the people we don't want in the game and we have to send a very clear message to all of those people who want to come into our game that they're not welcome, they're not wanted and if they do come in they will be swiftly dispatched."
'UEFA need Barnes more than he needs UEFA'
Sky Sports News' Geraint Hughes on the appointment of Bobby Barnes to the UEFA body...
"Yes, it was known Barnes would be appointed, but now it's officially done. Having a man as eloquent and knowledgeable as him on that body can only be a positive step.
"UEFA need Barnes more than he needs UEFA; their BAME representation across the union needs more work, but Barnes can bring so much to his new role. The Ethics, Control and Disciplinary Body has heard and will sadly hear again reports of racist behaviour within football.
"Barnes has personal experiences of racism as a footballer while playing, as a fan, and as a PFA and Fifpro official now he has dealt with racism from an administrators perspective. Barnes becomes the first person from a BAME background to sit on this UEFA Body, sadly he's very well qualified."