Greg Clarke has told Sky Sports News “it’s better for football” that he resigned immediately from his role as FIFA vice-president.
In the wake of his FA resignation Clarke also stepped down from his position with FIFA after a telephone call with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on Thursday morning.
“I tried to resign on Tuesday but Aleksander Ceferin wanted me to wait until the March elections,” Clarke said. “We spoke again this morning and he accepted my desire to go now. It’s better for football.”
Earlier this week, Clarke resigned as FA chairman in the wake of referring to black footballers as “coloured” while giving evidence to MPs.
Clarke had previously told Sky Sports News he was staying on as a FIFA vice-president until the UEFA Congress election in March at the request of Ceferin “to protect the UEFA vote”.
However, UEFA went on to confirm Clarke proposed he should step down with immediate effect.
A UEFA statement read: “Following a telephone call this morning between the UEFA President and Greg Clarke, they agreed with Greg Clarke’s proposal that he should step down with immediate effect from his position as a UEFA representative on the FIFA Council.”
Ceferin accepted Clarke’s resignation without hesitation. Sky Sports News has been told the UEFA president feels disappointed about the former FA chairman’s departure from football but in no way condones his language. Both Ceferin and UEFA accept Clarke’s language to parliament was completely unacceptable.
UEFA’s Executive Committee will meet on December 3 – ahead of a FIFA Council meeting on December 4 – to decide whether to appoint a temporary replacement onto the FIFA Council. Any appointment would be expected to be from one of the four British associations: FA, SFA, FAW or IFA.
Why Clarke has resigned from FA and FIFA roles
On Tuesday, Clarke used the phrase “high-profile coloured footballers” when answering a question around the difficulty of gay players in the men’s game coming out because of social media backlash during a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting.
The former FA chairman 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.”
A few minutes later, DCMS committee member Kevin Brennan MP asked Clarke if he wished to withdraw the use of the outdated word “coloured”.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.”
After his resignation was confirmed, Clarke said he “put the interests of football first” when making the decision to step down – something he had been “actively considering for some time” – and apologised again for his comments.
His resignation statement read: “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.”
After the resignation of Clarke as chairman, Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Bryan Swanson answers the key questions over what is next for the Football Association.
What’s the FA’s priority?
Their top priority is to find Clarke’s replacement, and the FA has promised there will be a diverse shortlist of candidates.
The FA’s Football Leadership Diversity Code states that hiring will be “on merit, to find the best person for the job from diverse talent pipelines.”
“Our process will be open and conform to the Diversity Code, ensuring that we are able to select the best candidate from a diverse talent pool,” says Mark Bullingham, the FA chief executive.
The FA has acknowledged they have been far from perfect – “we are on a journey” – and they know their next Chair needs to be selected from a pool of candidates as diverse and inclusive as possible.
England manager Gareth Southgate says the next FA chair should share the qualities Paul Elliott has shown during his time in the organisation.
The FA aims to hire a replacement for Clarke by the end of March 2021 and promises an open and diverse recruitment process.
Elliott, the chairman of the FA’s inclusion advisory board, is being touted as a potential successor to Clarke, with Southgate quick to heap praise on the former Chelsea defender.
Asked if the next FA chair should be black or a woman, Southgate said: “It has to be the right person.
“I think whoever comes in has to have an understanding of governance and operating at a high level at an important organisation.”