England defender Tyrone Mings believes it would be a “huge step” in the fight for equality if the next Football Association chairman was a black man or woman.
Greg Clarke resigned as chairman of the governing body on Tuesday, having used the word “coloured” among other controversial comments before a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee earlier in the day.
The incident occurred just a fortnight after the FA launched its new diversity code, which aims to ensure more candidates from ethnic minorities can land top jobs.
Mings was involved in the code’s creation and the Aston Villa defender said Clarke’s comments showed “we still have a long way to go and this probably proves it”.
Asked what it would mean to have a black man or woman as the next FA chairman, he said: “Of course it would be a huge step. That’s what it would be.
“It would be I guess everything that a lot of people have worked for. A lot of people more senior than myself. A lot of people who have been fighting for this cause for a lot longer than myself.
“But ultimately that isn’t what we’re asking for. We’re not necessarily asking for the next chairman or chief to be black.
“What we’re asking for is equal opportunities for both black and white people, or ethnic minorities.
“So the opportunities to be equal, the candidates themselves to be rightly qualified for the job because I don’t think anybody would want the job – whether you were black or white – if you weren’t qualified for it and you weren’t well equipped to be successful in that role.
“So we’re not necessarily asking for that as a sign of, ‘we’ve made it now’ or, ‘this is what we’re fighting for’. What we’re asking for really is equal opportunities for everybody to have a fair crack of the whip.”
Mings faced the media ahead of England’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on Thursday.
But Clarke’s comments understandably dominated the agenda just a day after the FA’s latest update on ‘In Pursuit of Progress’ – its three-year equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.
“Absolutely (the goal is to have more representation at managerial and coaching levels),” the England international added. “I don’t think that’s bad for the game whatsoever.
“It’s not necessarily the stuff that you can see, it’s not necessarily the visual stuff. It’s not necessarily the black people stood on the side. It’s about how they got there.
“It’s about the pathways that they have, it’s about the equal opportunity that they have to get those jobs. I think that’s what we’re trying to create with the code and I think that’s what will give us real lasting change.”
Clarke was met with a storm of criticism for the offensive remarks with the 63-year-old forced to apologise for using the word “coloured” to describe black players and insinuating that being gay was a “life choice”.
The FA’s vice-chairman Peter McCormick, a former chairman of the Premier League, is stepping in as interim FA chairman with immediate effect as they “begin the process of identifying and appointing a new chair in due course”.
Townsend: Football would’ve failed had Clarke continued
Troy Townsend of Kick It Out says football “would have failed” if Clarke had remained as FA chairman.
Townsend, Kick It Out’s Head of Development, told Sky Sports News: “Clarke has now alienated the vast majority of the community, that would be banging on the FA door and asking ‘what are you going to do about the chairman?’
“There has been so much noise in a short space of time that a decision has had to be made. He has paid the ultimate price for the language and the lazy terminologies that he continues to use.
“Sometimes, sorry is not enough and it has happened on this occasion. If he had continued in his job, football would have failed.
“Football would have failed to acknowledge the representation that it does have in the game and to acknowledge those people who would have been offended by the comments made by the former chairman.”
So the fa chairman now calls us coloured footballers 😭😭😭🤬🤬🤬 How will racism end with people like him at the top
— Gabriel Agbonlahor (@officialga11) November 10, 2020
Kick It Out Chair Sanjay Bhandari added: “I was gobsmacked. They were dripping out, comment by comment.
“The first comment you hear, you think ‘was that a slip of the tongue, to use the word coloured’? But, as you start hearing all of the other comments, that is not about somebody losing their role because of loose language.
“It is actually about an inappropriate attitude – because what that reveals underlying this is attitudes from the stone age.”
Football v Homophobia said: “The idea that being gay is a life choice is an outdated concept that many people will find deeply offensive.
“There are some people who will use a statement like this from the FA chairman as a way to prop up their homophobia.”
Sanderson: ‘Severe words’
Former England international Lianne Sanderson gave evidence to MPs three years ago in support of team-mate Eni Aluko over alleged racist comments made by former manager Mark Sampson.
Following Clarke’s resignation, she told Sky Sports News: “This is a subject that is very close to my heart.
“I often question how these people get into these positions in the first place.
“And then we wonder why racism and homophobia is on the rise, when we have somebody who can say subconscious racism is ‘fluff’ in the Houses of Parliament [in 2017, when Clarke had been summoned to discuss racial discrimination in football] and think that is acceptable.
“I don’t think he realises the severity of what he says.”