Professional Footballers' Association chairman Clarke Carlisle says hiring Reginald D Hunter was a 'huge mistake'

Reginald D. Hunter during the PFA Player of the Year Awards 2013 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. Photo: PA

Professional Footballers' Association chairman Clarke Carlisle believes his organisation made "a huge mistake" in hiring Reginald D Hunter to perform at last night's awards dinner in London.

Hunter, a black comedian from Georgia in the United States, repeatedly used the word 'n*****' during his performance, which was not well received by members of the audience in the ballroom of the Grosvenor House hotel in Mayfair.

Carlisle is one of a number of players who has campaigned tirelessly to try to eradicate racism in football, and although he refused to criticise Hunter's act, he admits it was a big error to hire the American for the event.

"I thought we made a huge mistake," said the Northampton defender, who took over as PFA chairman in 2010.

"I thought with everything that we have gone through over the last few years, using a comedian of his type was a bad error in judgement.

"I was embarrassed sat up there throughout and I want to apologise unreservedly to the footballing community that was present."

The topic of racism in football has become an emotive subject over the last two years in particular, with John Terry and Luis Suarez both receiving bans for racial abuse, although former England captain Terry was cleared of racism in a criminal trial regarding the same incident.

Carlisle was also annoyed that Hunter's performance detracted from an evening that was meant to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the organisation, and its decision to honour women footballers for the first time.

"What galls me is that it was a momentous occasion," he said.

"It was our 40th award, Kim Little won the first women's award, a place in history.

"It was the first time that the men's and women's game had unified and instead we are talking about someone who we paid to come in as entertainment come in and be facetious about something we stand vehemently against so I apologise for that. I was embarrassed."

Carlisle's comments bring him into conflict with the organisation's chief executive, Gordon Taylor, who last night tried to play down the furore caused by Hunter's appearance.

When asked whether it was a mistake to allow Hunter to perform, Taylor replied: "No, no, don't be silly. Are you serious?

"I think there were a few raised eyebrows over the comedian but that is the sort of thing you can't control. It was unfortunate. He is a professional comedian.

"It's a difficult subject in football and with him not being fully aware of how emotive it has been in football, that was probably a difficulty for him."

It is customary for a comedian to perform at the awards, but Carlisle now wants the slot to be axed.

"I'm not lambasting Reginald D Hunter," the centre-back said.

"That's his act, it's what he does. When you go to a comedy store you know you might have to leave your moral compass at the door, but the PFA Awards dinner, the showpiece of our season, is not the time to have an act like that.

"I am having a go at us as a union for putting that kind of material on show.

"We are seriously going to have to discuss the format of our evening because when you book a comedian, especially someone who does push issues to their boundaries and beyond, we have to question whether our event is the right time and place for that and I personally don't believe it is.

"It shouldn't be a time for satire or politicising things, it should be a time for celebration. That was a massive error in judgement and it's something we need to look at."

Anti-racism group Kick It Out also hit out at the PFA for booking Hunter.

The organisation said in a statement: "It is a matter for the PFA and enquiries related to it should be directed there.

"Kick It Out condemns racial slurs, the use of the n-word irrespective of context, and will act on any complaints made to the organisation on it."