LONDON: Greg Clarke has resigned as chairman of the Football Association after a series of controversial remarks he made when talking to MPs about diversity.
Clarke was forced to apologise on Tuesday after he used the word “coloured” before a Digital, Culture, Media, Sport committee.
His blundering will cost him the British vice-presidency of world federation FIFA; the four home associations will need to choose his successor shortly for approval, first, by the congress of European governing body UEFA.
Clarke’s purpose in appearing before the committee had been to discuss the governance of the game, particularly related to the financial rescue package from the Premier League to the EFL and also the recent revelations of his involvement in Project Big Picture discussions.
Instead, he ended up creating a new storm for English football with a series of controversial remarks.
The 63-year-old was also criticised by anti-discrimination group Kick It Out after saying that black and South Asian people had “different career interests” from each other.
Among a range of others comments to draw complaints was Clarke’s claim that a coach had told him that the lack of women’s goalkeepers was due to girls not liking the ball being kicked at them.
The FA said: “We can confirm that Greg Clarke has stepped down from his role as our chairman.
“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.”
Clarke himself said: “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.”
The FA added: “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’s remarks came just two weeks after the FA launched a new diversity code, which aims to ensure more candidates from ethnic minorities can land top jobs.
What he said
“If I look at what happens to high-profile female footballers, to high-profile coloured footballers, and the abuse they take on social media… social media is a free-for-all.”
“If you go to the IT department at the FA, there’s a lot more South Asians than there are Afro-Caribbeans. They have different career interests.”
“The real issue is once you run out in front of 60,000 people and you decided on Monday that you wanted to disclose your sexuality – and I would never pressure anybody to disclose their sexuality – what I would want to do is to know that anybody who runs out onto the pitch and says, ‘I’m gay. I’m proud of it and I’m happy.
“It’s a life choice, and I’ve made it because my life is a better place’, I’d like to believe and I do believe they would have the support of their mates in the changing room.”
“I talked to a coach – and I’m not certain this is true – and said, ‘what’s the issue with goalkeepers in the women’s game?’
“She said, ‘young girls, when they take up the game (aged) six, seven, eight, just don’t like having the ball kicked at them hard’, right? They prefer to kick it than have it kicked at them. We have to understand we need to look at different ways to bring women into the goalkeeper’s position.”