FA chairman issues apology for referring to “coloured footballers” amid speech

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Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has apologised for referring to “coloured footballers” while giving evidence to MPs.

Clarke said sorry to Parliament after describing BAME players as “coloured footballers” while giving evidence to a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Clarke was answering a question around the difficulty of gay players in the men’s game coming out because of social media backlash.

Clarke had 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.”

 Greg Clarke, chairman of the FA during the WSL Continental Cup Final between Arsenal Women and Manchester City Ladies at Adams Park on March 14, 2018 in High Wycombe, England.

A few minutes later, DCMS committee member Kevin Brennan MP asked Clarke if he wished to withdraw the use of the word “coloured”.

“If I said it, I deeply apologise for it,” Clarke replied.

“Secondly, 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’ sometimes because that was the product of their diversity legislation and positive discrimination format. Sometimes I trip over my words.”

A statement released on Twitter by The FA shortly after the hearing read: “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.”

The chairmen of the DCMS select committee Julian Knight MP wrote on Twitter: “It’s right that Greg Clarke apologised before the Committee, however, this isn’t the first time that the FA has come to grief over these issues. It makes us question their commitment to diversity.”

It was a sentiment echoed by former Premier League defender Anton Ferdinand, who wrote: “I appreciate that the FA are doing some good work with their diversity campaign but it’s important the chairman Greg Clarke knows using the term “coloured footballers” to reference people of ethnicity is unacceptable!!!! Clearly education is needed at all levels.”