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  1. ITV Report

Greg Clarke says FA have 'lost the trust of the public'

Clarke's gave a frank assessment in his speech at the FA council's autumn meeting at Wembley. Photo: PA

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has admitted the governing body has "lost the trust of the public" and promised a "top to bottom" cultural review of the national football centre at St George's Park.

Clarke's frank assessment came in a 2,600-word speech to the FA council's autumn meeting at Wembley on Thursday.

The chairman described last week's appearance before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee as "a bruising personal experience and the culmination of a very damaging episode for the organisation".

Clarke ha promised a cultural review of the national football centre at St George's Park. Credit: PA

Clarke, FA chief executive Martin Glenn, technical director Dan Ashworth and HR boss Rachel Brace were invited to appear before the DCMS panel to explain the FA's handling of the allegations of bullying and racism made by England striker Eni Aluko against former England women's team manager Mark Sampson.

Clarke told the council the quartet went to Westminster to defend themselves and the actions they took in response to Aluko's complaint, hoping to persuade the MPs that mistakes were made but lessons have been learned and their intentions were good.

"We failed," said Clarke, explaining how the judgement of the politicians, media and public was "very clear".

He then repeated the apology the FA made to Aluko and her team-mates Lianne Sanderson and Drew Spence, all of whom have aired grievances against Sampson, who was eventually sacked last month for what the FA judged was inappropriate behaviour in his previous job at Bristol Academy.

Clarke then described the reaction to Wednesday's hearing, saying that "a storm has blown through us and we have struggled to cope".

That storm, he claimed, "stripped us of our veneer and exposed some deeper fundamental truths" about why the FA's successes are taken for granted but its failures leapt upon.

"I believe it is because we have lost the trust of the public and I think this lack of trust is underpinned by three characteristics," Clarke said.

Sampson was sacked by the FA last month. Credit: PA

These characteristics, he explained, are the FA's huge remit and a perception it lacks competence, a lack of diversity throughout the organisation and, unlike most other national football associations, a failure to properly utilise the experience and skills of senior players and managers.

To illustrate these points, Clarke described a meeting he had last week with a number of county FAs in Sheffield, where the conversation about grassroots issues was "positive, supportive and full of good intentions".

But among the "10 or 11" in the room there was only one woman and no one from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background, said Clarke.

"As I reflected on the meeting, and on the lessons of the Aluko case, it was clear to me that our good intentions alone are no longer enough," he said.

"We had a number of black players within our senior England women's team who did not trust us enough to share their experiences of discriminatory behaviour.

"All they could see was a white hierarchy who had no experience of what it feels like to be a black person on the receiving end of inappropriate comments."

Saying the FA "needs to be an organisation of this time", Clarke said it was clear to him that the governing body must "simplify its mandate in order to be competent", "embrace inclusivity" and "harness the expertise" of senior players and managers.