Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Greg Clarke: FA chairman quits after ‘unacceptable’ remarks

The chairman of the Football Association has resigned after using the term “coloured” to describe footballers from different ethnic backgrounds.

Greg Clarke was also criticised after saying people from South Asian and African-Caribbean backgrounds had “different career interests” from each other.

And he drew complaints for saying a coach had told him the lack of women’s goalkeepers was due to girls not liking the ball being kicked at them.

In a statement, the FA said: “We can confirm that Greg Clarke has stepped down from his role as our chairman.

“Peter McCormick will step into the role as interim FA chairman with immediate effect and the FA Board will begin the process of identifying and appointing a new chair in due course.”

Mr Clarke admitted his comments in front of MPs were “unacceptable” and “a disservice to our game”, adding: “I am deeply saddened that I have offended those diverse communities in football that I and others worked so hard to include.”

He earlier apologised for using the term “coloured” while appearing at a select committee hearing.

In his controversial remarks, Mr Clarke said: “If I look at what happens to high-profile female footballers, to high-profile coloured footballers, and the abuse they take on social media… social media is a free-for-all.”

A few minutes later, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee member Kevin Brennan MP asked Mr Clarke if he wished to withdraw the use of the word “coloured”.

“If I said it, I deeply apologise for it,” Mr Clarke replied.

“Secondly, I am a product of having worked overseas, I worked in the USA for many years, where I was required to use the term ‘people of colour’ sometimes because that was the product of their diversity legislation and positive discrimination format. Sometimes I trip over my words.”

He was also criticised for referencing “differing career interests” between people from South Asian and African-Caribbean backgrounds after being asked what the FA was doing to improve diversity within the governing body.

“I was talking to the chair of a county FA from the west country. He has tried to now make sure he has representation within diverse communities,” he said.

“(He told me) ‘I’m over-committed with South Asians, I’m not getting enough people from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds’.

“The BAME communities aren’t an amorphous mass. If you look at top-level football, the Afro-Caribbean community is over-represented versus the South Asian community.

“If you go to the IT department at the FA, there’s a lot more South Asians than there are Afro-Caribbeans. They have different career interests.”

Mr Clarke later discussed the likely reaction within football if a male professional player came out publicly as gay.

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