England defender Tyrone Mings believes that Greg Clarke’s comments to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee prove that there is still “a long way to go”.
Clarke resigned as chairman of the Football Association on Tuesday after using the word “coloured” while speaking to MPs about racist and homophobic abuse of players on social media.
While discussing how to achieve greater representation within the game, Clarke also claimed that South Asian people had “different career interests”, pointing to the FA’s IT department as evidence.
Clarke was censured by the MPs on the committee and later publicly apologised but resigned on Tuesday evening, describing his comments as “a disservice to our game and to those who watch, play, referee and administer it.”
Mings, who joined Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd during the summer and has worked alongside the FA on their new Football Leadership Diversity Code, said that Clarke’s comments proved that more work must be done.
“I feel that with all the work we’re doing this year, everything that has happened this year, highlighting the issues we have in the world, the diversity code being one of them, is that we’re in a position where education is key,” he said.
“I know I’ve said that before. People keep saying: Education, education, education and sometimes it feels like we’re educating people, but what does that really mean? What does that really look like? Education isn’t necessarily the generations that are coming through.
“We don’t just have to educate our kids on the society of today, or what you can and can’t say, but also people in Greg’s position, people who have lived in different cultures and lived in different times to what we’re living in at the moment.
“That phrase may have been acceptable once upon a time, but I think with what is going on in the world, probably highlights even more than what I could, than what the code can, than what players and staff can, that we’ve still got a long way to go.
“I don’t think there’s any shame in that, we evidently still have a long way to go, both in our association and in our society as well”
While condemning Clarke’s comments, Mings felt that they should not detract from the work that English football’s governing body has done to address systemic racism within the game.
“You can separate the two,” he said, “the work that the FA are doing, and the chairman’s knowledge of what should and shouldn’t be said in today’s society. Because I first hand have seen how much work the FA is doing.
“I’m not sitting here trying to vehemently defend them, but at the same time I’ve been a part of it, I’ve been part of trying to drive change, I’ve been a part of speaking to different people within the organisation. I firmly believe we are trying to make good strides.”
Mings added: “Like I said at the top, there’s still a long way to go, and when I say there’s still a long way to go, I don’t just mean people away from football. I don’t just mean people on the pitch. I mean people in administrative roles, people at director level, people at boardroom level. We’ve all still got a long way to go.
“If anything’s come from this year, a lot of uncomfortable conversations have been had. People have been more aware of problems that we are facing in society, and things that we can try and change. Of course, there’s still a long way to go, of course things like this are not ideal, don’t get me wrong.
“I’d love to be sat here talking about football for the whole thing. But at the same time we’ve all got a duty of care to understand what’s going on in the world and to understand what terminology you can and can’t use.
“If you fall foul of that, or it’s a slip of the tongue, be man enough and brave enough to apologise for it. It’s not for me to condemn it but like I said we still have a long way to go, and this probably proves it.”
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