English FA chairman Clarke steps down after ‘unacceptable’ racist remarks

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has resigned after making offensive remarks which has been met with a storm of criticism.

The 63-year-old was earlier forced to apologise after he used the word “coloured” to describe black players and insinuated that being gay was a “life choice”.

His controversial comments, before a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, were branded “harmful”, “archaic” and “deeply offensive”.

Clarke was also condemned by anti-discrimination group Kick It Out after saying that black and South Asian people had “different career interests” from each other, and drew complaints for saying a women’s coach had told him the lack of women’s goalkeepers was due to girls not liking the ball being kicked at them.

The FA announced Clarke’s resignation early on Tuesday evening and Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari welcomed the swift action taken.

Bhandari said on Sky Sports News: “We are not just talking about anybody here, we are talking about the leader of our national game on a really major strategic issue for the FA, which is driving greater diversity and inclusion, making everyone feel they belong in the game.

“These were archaic attitudes which were really revealing themselves in comment after comment – a well-briefed chair or CEO would know exactly how to navigate that.”

The FA found itself embroiled in major controversy just two weeks after it launched a new diversity code, which aims to ensure more candidates from ethnic minorities can land top jobs.

In announcing Clarke’s departure, the FA 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 revealed he had already been actively considering standing down for some time.

He added in a statement: “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.

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

Clarke is also one of three FIFA vice-presidents representing UEFA and reports on Tuesday night suggested he will step away from that role, too.

The world governing body has been approached for comment.

England defender Tyrone Mings was asked about Clarke’s comments at a Three Lions press conference.

“I will reiterate my point that we do still have a very, very long way to go, and there is no shame in that,” said Mings.

Former Aston Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor tweeted: “So the FA chairman now calls us coloured footballers.

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“How will racism end with people like him at the top?”, while former West Ham defender Anton Ferdinand said: “Clearly education is needed at all levels.”

Peter McCormick, chairman of the FA’s professional game board, has been named interim FA chairman.

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