LONDON: Michael Johnson has stepped down from the Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board following criticism over comments he made in 2012 describing homosexuality as “detestable”.

The comments came to light last week, with the FA forced to defend the appointment of the 40-year-old. The former Jamaica international, who retired as a player in 2009, was appointed to the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board in mid-December 2013.

He made his comments in March 2012 and has sad that he has changed his views.

However, he had decided after all the media controversy that he could not continue on the board put together by FA chairman Greg Dyke.

Johnson said: “I’ve taken time over the weekend to reflect on the coverage. I feel that it’s in the best interests of all concerned if I step down from my duties with the inclusion advisory board.

“I remain a big advocate of inclusion in football and have actively supported the FA’s Coach programme which offers aspiring coaches from black and minority ethnic backgrounds a chance to progress their football qualifications.”

Johnson, who made more than 500 appearances for Notts County, Birmingham City and Derby County, was speaking on BBC’s The Big Questions programme aired in March 2012.

The former Jamaica international made his comments when asked if he would support the FA’s anti-homophobic campaign because of his Christian faith.

He said: “Because of my beliefs, because of the Bible that I read, in the Bible it does state that homosexuality is detestable unto the Lord.”

The board, formed in December and aimed at widening inclusion in football, will hold its first meeting later this month.

Johnson’s decision to step down means the group now has nine members with former England and Chelsea player Graeme Le Saux the only ex-professional on the list.

Chair Heather Rabbatts said: “It’s unfortunate that Michael has decided to step down but he remains 100% behind the aims of the inclusion advisory board and is someone that we will be speaking to on a regular basis as we progress throughout this year and beyond.

“He has a wealth of experience in both domestic and international football and is carving out a coaching career with Birmingham City so he’s someone that can bring vital expertise to the work of the inclusion advisory board over time.”

The IAB group will monitor the delivery of Football’s Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan between 2013 and 2017.