Football

Greg Clarke quits FA chairman role and apologises after 'coloured footballers' comment


Greg Clarke has quit as FA Chairman after using racist terminology in front of the DCMS Select Committee. There was widespread condemnation of the 63-year-old after he used the term “coloured footballers” and then used the number of south-Asians compared to Afro-Caribbean employees in the FA’s own IT department to suggest there were “different career interests”.

He initially apologised for his poor choice of language to the select committee, claiming he had “tripped over his words” after being encouraged to use term “people of colour” during years working the USA.

However committee chairman Julian Knight questioned whether Clarke was the “right person” to lead the organisation as fellow committee member Alex Davies-Jones described his language as “abhorrent”.

Within five hours it was clear Clarke’s position had become untenable and his four-year tenure was ended by a short FA statement.

“We can confirm that Greg Clarke has stepped down from the role as FA chairman,” it said.

“We would also like to reaffirm that as an organisation, we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to promote diversity, address inequality, and tackle all forms of discrimination in the game.”

Clarke added in a personal statement: “As a person who loves football and has given decades of service to our game, it is right that I put the interests of football first.

“2020 has been a challenging year and I have been actively considering standing down for some time to make way for a new chair.

“My unacceptable words in front of Parliament were a disservice to our game and to those who watch, play, referee and administer it. This has crystallised my resolve to move on.

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“I am deeply saddened that I have offended those diverse communities in football that I and others worked so hard to include.”

FA lawyer Peter McCormick will act as interim chairman while the board look for a successor.

Three years ago, Clarke had used the same platform to dismiss the problem of institutional racism in the FA as “fluff”.

He had been called to speak on his part in negotiating a bailout for EFL clubs in light of the covid crisis but quickly turned his session into a clumsy stream of inadvertently offensive statements.

Clarke discussed people coming out as gay as ‘a life choice’ and, when discussing the lack of equality for women in football, illustrated his argument with the claims of a coach he had spoken to who said little girls do not like having balls kicked at them.

Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari said: “His is use of outdated language to describe Black and Asian people as ‘coloured’ is from decades ago and should remain consigned to the dustbin of history.

“But it isn’t just about that particular word. It’s like a grisly compilation album of the greatest hits of ignorant stereotypes.”





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