A chairman Greg Clarke was forced to apologise for using the word “coloured” while answering questions from MPs during talks with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Tuesday.
Clarke used the term while discussing diversity in football. Clarke also faced criticism for saying: “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.”
After MP Kevin Brennan then asked him to apologise for using the term “coloured”. Clarke said: “I deeply apologise for it. 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 legislature. Sometimes I trip over my words.”
Anti-discrimination campaigner Piara Powar tweeted: “I like Greg Clarke, I think he’s quite genuine, but why does he talk such bollocks? This stuff about ‘coloured’ players and Asians in the IT department. It’s inaccurate and insulting.”
In an answer to a question about a lack of an openly gay player in men’s elite football, Clarke had said: “The answer is I do not know. I have spent a lot of time speaking to people from the LGBT community, I have talked to LGBT athletes from other sports who have come out, and the view I have heard is . . . if I look at what happens to high-profile female footballers, high-profile coloured footballers, and the abuse they take on social media.
“They take violent abuse. I have not talked directly to gay footballers, but when I talk to gay sportsmen, why would you voluntarily sign up for that abuse? We need the Government to help us relate social media so that racist, homophobes and misogynists cannot take aim at anybody who dares to say anything they disagree with.”
An FA spokesman said: “Greg Clarke is deeply apologetic for the language he used to reference members of the ethnic minority community during the select committee hearing today. He acknowledged that using the term ‘coloured’ is not appropriate and wholeheartedly apologised during the hearing.”