FA chair Greg Clarke quits following racially offensive, homophobic and sexist remarks

Video report by ITV News sports editor Steve Scott.

Warning: This video report and article contains the racially offensive language Greg Clarke used

Greg Clarke has stepped down from his role as chairman of the Football Association after being heavily criticised for controversial comments made while giving evidence to a parliamentary select committee.

Mr Clarke apologised after he used the word “coloured” when talking about black footballers before a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee meeting but has since decided to resign from his position, which he has held since 2016.

He was also criticised by anti-discrimination group Kick It Out after saying that black and South Asian people had “different career interests” from each other, and also drew complaints for saying a women’s coach had told him that the lack of women’s goalkeepers was due to girls not liking the ball being kicked at them.

Additionally, he was roundly criticised for insinuating homosexuality was a lifestyle choice.

Peter McCormick will replace Mr Clarke in the role at Wembley. Credit: PA

"We can confirm that Greg Clarke has stepped down from his role as our chairman," an FA statement read."Peter McCormick will step into the role as interim FA Chairman with immediate effect and the FA Board will begin the process of identifying and appointing a new chair in due course."

The purpose of the FA chief appearing before the committee had been to discuss the governance of the game, particularly related to the financial rescue package from the Premier League to the EFL and also the recent revelations of his involvement in Project Big Picture discussions.

In a statement on the FA’s website, Mr Clarke said: “As a person who loves football and has given decades of service to our game, it is right that I put the interests of football first.

“2020 has been a challenging year and I have been actively considering standing down for some time to make way for a new chair now our CEO transition is complete and excellent executive leadership under Mark Bullingham is established.

“My unacceptable words in front of Parliament were a disservice to our game and to those who watch, play, referee and administer it. This has crystallised my resolve to move on.

“I am deeply saddened that I have offended those diverse communities in football that I and others worked so hard to include.

“I would like to thank my friends and colleagues in the game for the wisdom and counsel they have shared over the years and resign from the FA with immediate effect.”

Greg Clarke was speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee

Kick It Out executive chair Sanjay Bhandari was scathing in his criticism.

“I was extremely disappointed to see Greg Clarke’s comments today,” Mr Bhandari said in a statement.

“His use of outdated language to describe black and Asian people as ‘coloured’ is from decades ago and should remain consigned to the dustbin of history.

“Being gay is not a ‘life choice’ as he claimed too.

"The casual sexism of saying ‘girls’ do not like balls hit at them hard, is staggering from anyone, let alone the leader of our national game.

"It is completely unacceptable.

“I was particularly concerned by the use of lazy racist stereotypes about South Asians and their supposed career preferences.

“It reflects similar lazy stereotypes I have heard has been spouted at club academy level.

"That kind of attitude may well partially explain why South Asians are statistically the most under-represented ethnic minority on the pitch.

“Football needs to step up and address this lack of representation of South Asians on the pitch – there has been virtually no progress in 40 years.

"My experience as a South Asian is that we do not have different career aspirations, but we have different outcomes.

"Talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not.

“The football bodies need to focus on spreading that opportunity evenly and removing the kind of systemic bias that these lazy stereotypes reflect.

“I have seen the good work that the FA have been doing to create a more inclusive game, not least in the Diversity in Football Leadership Code. The FA has rightly been applauded for leading that effort.

“But these comments indicate that more still needs to be done to challenge attitudes. For all the steps made forward recently, the comments expressed today are a big step backwards.”

Mr Clarke’s remarks came just two weeks after the FA launched a new diversity code, which aims to ensure more candidates from ethnic minorities can land top jobs.

England defender Tyrone Mings said prior to confirmation of Mr Clarke's exit: “I will reiterate my point that we do still have a very, very long way to go, and there is no shame in that.

“There is no shame in knowing we can all improve, there is no shame in knowing we all have to have uncomfortable conversations, because whilst it does not affect large proportions of society or the community, it does affect some segments of it.

“Football is such a diverse community that we have to be aware of what is appropriate for one another and we have to be careful and mindful of the terminology which we use.

“I won’t comment too much on that, but I am sure there will be other people around the country who are angry as well.”

The former chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Damian Collins MP, tweeted: “Greg Clarke’s departure as FA Chairman should be a moment for fundamental reform of the governance of football in England.

“We need a body that shows real leadership on player development and welfare, fan engagement, inclusion, & financial sustainability.”