Greg Clarke’s resignation won’t make a difference in Football Association, says Joleon Lescott

Gareth Southgate says Greg Clarke had ‘no alternative’ but to resign as FA chairman

President Greg Clarke’s resignation will not improve diversity within the Football Association, former England defender Joleon Lescott has said.

Clarke resigned Tuesday after using “unacceptable” language when referring to black players.

Lescott described Clarke’s comments as “very disturbing” and said even thinking about it made him “emotional”.

“One hundred percent of black gamers want to see change, but it’s not going to happen,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

The former Manchester City defender believes Clarke’s comments hint at structural problems within the FA and says any successor may not be able to bring about real change.

“I don’t think a 63-year-old man in 2020 is using that phrase for the first time, and that’s the problem,” he said.

“So now we expect the next person in line to hear this and be a part of it. Now he’s going to step in and we expect that person to take us on.

“How do you expect change if the people in charge have the same or similar mindset? “

Clarke’s language was “obsolete” – PFA

Clarke made the comments by addressing the select committee of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) via a video link.

He used the term when talking about racist abuse of players by trolls on social media.

Clarke has received further criticism for her comments referring to gay players making a “lifestyle choice,” the different career choices of people from the black and Asian communities, and a coach telling her young players don’t like it. not that the ball hits hard at them.

Former Huddersfield and Gillingham striker Iffy Onuora, who is head of ties at the Professional Footballers Association, says it shows more education is needed on the effect of certain words and phrases and why they are offensive.

“It’s so outdated. There are certain terms we no longer use about people with disabilities or gay people – we’ve moved on,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“That’s the whole message it sounds. Remember that FA members expect the president to show leadership, give that voice and lead some of the initiatives they take. , like everyone else in the game. “

Football still controlled by white men – Rabbatts

Clarke’s departure means there are now nine people left on the FA’s board of directors, including interim chairman Peter McCormick.

Of these, four board members are women and one is of black ethnic minority background (BAME).

This goes in the direction of the reforms approved by the FA in 2017, who pledged to increase BAME representation on the board to at least 10%, have 10% representation from the LGBT + community and 40% female representation.

He also pledged to add 11 new members to improve the diversity of the 122-member FA board, which was predominantly made up of white men over the age of 60.

Dame Heather Rabbatts, who spent five years as the only woman and BAME member on the FA’s board before stepping down in 2017, said Clarke’s comments “exposed the fault line” in the sport .

“The leadership and management of football, one of the most diverse games on the planet, is still controlled, fundamentally, by white men,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

Mark Bullingham, chief executive of the FA, said the recruiting process will be an open system.

“Our process will be open and diversity code compliant, ensuring that we are able to select the best candidate from a diverse talent pool,” said Bullingham.

Will there be any change?

Former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha said Clarke’s comments were “simply unacceptable”.

“It’s outrageous to be honest – it looks like something from 20 or 30 years ago,” he told 5 Live. “This language has been inappropriate for decades now, so it somehow shows that he may have lived in an echo chamber where things like this are okay to say.”

Match-of-the-day presenter and former England striker Gary Lineker told ITV’s Good Morning Britain the organization was full of “a lot of old white men” and said he believed real change could not be achieved. implemented only if the FA, the English Football League and the Premier League worked together. .

Former England winger John Barnes said the issue of racism needs to be tackled by society as a whole, not just football.

“A lot of people now see this problem as if it were unique to football,” he told BBC Radio Wales.

“But if you look at the upper echelons of any institution, a lot of white men over 50 have the same ideas. This is how society is and this is what we have to tackle, society as a whole. “

Former FA chairman David Bernstein said Clarke’s comments underscored the need for structural change in the FA.

Bernstein was part of a group that this month launched a manifesto for change called ‘Saving Our Beautiful Game’, calling for changes to the FA as well as an independent regulator of English football.

“The FA has resisted serious changes over the years and frankly, if you have an organization that isn’t modern, that hasn’t been updated, then this sort of thing is much more likely to happen.” , he told 5 Live.

“I hope there are progressive people in all fields who are convinced of this. I think the FA needs to think very carefully about the type of person who will be proposed to lead the organization next time around.”

Clarke’s comments come just two weeks after the FA revealed his new Diversity Code for Football Leaders to tackle racial inequalities in the English game.

Onuora believes the code is a “step in the right direction”, but says the incident highlights the need for further changes.

“It’s not the answer to everything,” he said. “Behaviors will also have to change and the ways of discussing these things, as we have seen today.

“But it’s a step in the right direction and that’s what the code is meant to represent.”

Former Manchester United and England striker Andy Cole remains optimistic things are moving in the right direction and says people should wait and see if the new code has a positive impact.

“We have to move forward now,” he told BBC Breakfast. “I hope, given what we are going through now, that in six months there will be some progress, and I want to see where we are.”

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