The Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has resigned after he was challenged by a Welsh MP for his unacceptable racial language.
The 63-year-old apologised after he used the word “coloured” to describe black players and insinuated that being gay was a “life choice”, during a video link appearance before a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.
Speaking to the committee Mr Clarke said: “I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people from the LGBT community, people from other sports that have come out, and the views that I’ve heard is if I look at what has happened to high-profile female footballers, high-profile coloured footballers, and the abuse they have taken on social media.”
He was then challenge on this language by Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan who said: “Diversity is not really the issue, is it? Football is diverse. It’s inclusion that’s the issue and when you said something earlier on I think I heard you refer to coloured people.
“If that’s the case would you want to withdraw that language because isn’t that exactly the sort of language that means inclusion is not a reality even though football is very diverse and has many people in it from minority backgrounds and people who are gay.”
Clarke apologised saying that he had tripped over his words and that the phrase was used often in the USA where he had previously worked.
“If I said it, I deeply apologise for it,” he said. “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’ because that was a product of their diversity legislation and positive discrimination format. Sometimes I trip over my words and I apologise.”
The FA announced Clarke’s resignation 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.
“It is not as if this is the first time, there have been previous incidents – like referring to institutional racism as ‘fluff’.
“What it shows is there is an attitude underlying which is really not the right attitude to be leading the English game.”
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, former Manchester United striker Andrew Cole said he just “shook his head and laughed.
He said: “He was in a position to know that the word ‘coloured’ is not a word to be used, and he has lost his job now due to that.
“But we keep talking about diversity, now hopefully we will continue to progress and keep moving forward and doing the right things.
“I just shake my head and I just laugh, because him being in that position he’s supposed to be better – he’s fighting the cause for diversity.
“We used to wear t-shirts once a year or whatever it was, that’s just not enough. That’s how I feel about it. When I talk about progression, it means we have to progress.”
On Twitter former player and now pundit Gary Neville tweeted: “Compelling evidence again yesterday as to why an independent regulator is required for football. Football cannot govern itself!”