Otago Daily Times

Clarke quits af­ter ‘coloured foot­baller’ gaffe

FOOT­BALL

- London · Greg Clark · The Football Association · Football Association of Ireland · Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport · Leicester City F.C. · Northern Mariana Islands · Kevin Brennan

LONDON: Greg Clarke has re­signed as English Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man, af­ter re­fer­ring to ‘‘coloured foot­ballers’’ dur­ing ques­tions from mem­bers of par­lia­ment yes­ter­day.

The 63­year­old was widely crit­i­cised af­ter mak­ing a se­ries of in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ments while taking ques­tions from mem­bers of the Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia & Sport (DCMS) se­lect com­mit­tee.

‘‘We can con­firm that Greg Clarke has stepped down from his role as our chair­man,’’ the FA said in a state­ment.

‘‘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.’’

For­mer Le­ices­ter chair­man Clarke was ap­pointed by the FA in 2016, since when the gov­ern­ing body has worked hard to be­come more in­clu­sive.

In 2018 the FA launched its Pur­suit of Progress ini­tia­tive, aimed at in­creas­ing the di­ver­sity of those play­ing and run­ning English foot­ball.

How­ever, Clarke’s out­dated ter­mi­nol­ogy yes­ter­day led to out­rage among anti­racism or­gan­i­sa­tions and play­ers.

‘‘I was ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed to see Greg Clarke’s com­ments today in the DCMS se­lect com­mit

City tee,’’ Kick It Out chair­man San­jay Bhan­dari said.

‘‘His 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.’’

Clarke was at­tend­ing the DCMS meet­ing re­motely to dis­cuss the Pre­mier League’s fi­nan­cial res­cue pack­age for the English Foot­ball League in light of the Covid­19 pan­demic.

But when ques­tions turned to di­ver­sity in English foot­ball he be­gan to score ver­bal own goals at an alarm­ing rate.

Asked about the dif­fi­culty gay play­ers in the men’s game faced in ‘‘com­ing out’’ in the so­cial me­dia age, Clarke said: ‘‘If I look at what hap­pens to high­pro­file fe­male foot­ballers, to high­pro­file coloured foot­ballers, and the abuse they take on so­cial me­dia . . . so­cial me­dia is a freefor­all.’’

DCMS com­mit­tee mem­ber Kevin Bren­nan MP later picked up Clarke on his choice of words, prompt­ing an apol­ogy.

‘‘If I said it I deeply re­gret it’’ Clarke replied. ‘‘I am a prod­uct of work­ing over­seas, where I was re­quired to use the phrase peo­ple of colour. Some­times I trip over my words.’’

Clarke was also crit­i­cised for voic­ing other stereo­types. Talk­ing about di­ver­sity within foot­ball, he said South Asians and Afro­Caribbean peo­ple had ‘‘dif­fer­ent ca­reer in­ter­ests’’.

‘‘BAME [Black, Asian and Mi­nor­ity Eth­nic] com­mu­ni­ties are not an amor­phous mass,’’ he said. ‘‘If you look at top level foot­ball, the Afro­Caribbean com­mu­nity is over­rep­re­sented com­pared to the South Asian com­mu­nity.

‘‘If you go to the IT depart­ment of the FA there’s a lot more South Asians than there are AfroCaribb­eans. They have dif­fer­ent ca­reer in­ter­ests.’’

Clarke also re­ferred to gay play­ers mak­ing a ‘‘life choice’’, prompt­ing fur­ther crit­i­cism.

Clarke later is­sued a state­ment of apol­ogy but said he had been con­sid­er­ing stand­ing down any­way.

‘‘I’m deeply sad­dened that I of­fended those di­verse com­mu­ni­ties in foot­ball that I and oth­ers worked so hard to in­clude.’’ — Reuters

 ??  ?? Greg Clarke
Greg Clarke

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