By Andrew Warshaw
November 10 – Greg Clarke sensationally resigned today as chairman of the English Football Association after four years in the job over offensive language used when addressing a group of British parliamentarians about inclusion and diversity.
Clarke (pictured), who is also a FIFA vice-president, used the word “coloured” when referencing black players in a discussion with members of parliament.
Clarke, 63, immediately apologised at the time but within a couple of hours issued his resignation having indiscreetly also suggested in the same discussion that the lack of professional players in England from a South Asian background was due to “different career interests”.
Clarke also described being gay as a “life choice” when quizzed over the lack of openly gay male players.
“We can confirm that Greg Clarke has stepped down from his role as our chairman,” the FA said in a statement. “We would 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 implied his use of language was accidental and a slip of the tongue.
“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 color’, and … sometimes I trip over my words,” he explained.
But in resigning he conceded: “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.”
Sanjay Bhandari, executive chair of anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, said he was “extremely disappointed” by Clarke’s comments.
“His use of outdated language to describe Black and Asian people as ‘colored’ is from decades ago and should remain consigned to the dustbin of history,” Bhandari said.
“These comments indicate that more still needs to be done to challenge attitudes. For all the steps made forward recently, the comments expressed today are a big step backwards.”
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