Otago Daily Times

Clarke quits after ‘coloured footballer’ gaffe



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However, Clarke’s outdated terminolog­y yesterday led to outrage among antiracism organisati­ons and players.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‘‘His use of outdated language to describe black and Asian people as ‘‘coloured’’ is from decades ago and should remain consigned to the dustbin of history.’’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

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Greg Clarke

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