ENTERTAINMENT

MARTIN SAMUEL: Greg Clarke might as well have had a red nose and a swirling bow tie


Now we know the truth about Football Association Chairman Greg Clarke.

He really wasn't that smart.

Racist, sexist, probably not. Using very outdated language implicated in grossly stereotypical attitudes in front of a committee of politicians on Tuesday, he paid a heavy price.

Clarke rightly apologized when he was corrected, but in the current climate it would never be enough. He couldn't go on running an organization designed to lead the way on equality issues while speaking like a cartoon of a retired colonel in the bar of a Home Counties golf club.

Greg Clarke resigned as FA chairman after a disastrous parliamentary panel with the Department of Culture, Media and Sports, referring to "colored footballers" among a number of other offensive gaffs

Even if his allies within the FA – there appear to have been only a fleeting few at the end – did not see this as a matter of resignation, it would never end there.

Given Clarke's awkward language and the appalled reaction to it, how was the FA ever going to move forward with him at the helm?

How could the board of directors steer clubs with a diversity chairman who sees a significant number of modern footballers – including Raheem Sterling – as "colored" given his comments about abuse on social media?

How could the game try to encourage more Asian footballers when the FA chief agrees with the lie that children with this background are more interested in computer studies? And the most worrying aspect? It could be argued that this wasn't even Clarke's worst appearance before a parliamentary committee.

Previously, in 2017, he referred to institutional racism concerns as "fluff" and the session ended with the chairman of the DCMS selection board asking if he was the right man to run the FA. Similar questions were asked on Tuesday. That's two appearances three years apart, and both ended with the same conclusion about Clarke's competence.

Seriously, this guy? Is this the best we can get to run the national sport? Whether you view Clarke's words as the product of outdated attitudes, incompetence, or nerves, none of them made him best suited for the office.

If there was dark irony emerging from the Fall of Grace on Tuesday, this was the man we should believe was the real mastermind behind Project Big Picture.

Again: this guy? Mr Colored Footballers and All-Asians who like to work with computers? The leader who should have appeared before the DCMS committee with a red nose and a whirling bow tie? Was this the head of the operation, the evil genius behind the proposed restructuring of English football?

Clarke's use of the term "colored" was particularly troubling, and his resignation could prove to be a catalyst for change for an organization that oversees all aspects of national sport

Clarke's use of the term "colored" was particularly troubling, and his resignation could prove to be a catalyst for change for an organization that oversees all aspects of national sport

Every time Clarke was called in to explain his role in governance, he should have been preceded by his big clown feet and the honking of the horns. He should have played the same music as Laurel and Hardy. And is this the heading that has been described as "ruthless" in the way he led the planned revolution in football?

Niccolo Machiavelli was a brilliant man; a diplomat and philosopher. Clarke couldn't stand 10 minutes' trial by some of the most mediocre political figures of the time without losing any credibility.

& # 39; Colored & # 39; has long been a problematic term. People of a certain generation still mistakenly think it is a polite way of saying black. This is what happened to Alan Hansen Game of the day during a debate on racism in football. He later apologized.

Still, Hansen was not responsible for English football at the time, and that controversy, which received a lot of public attention, took place nine years ago.

Was it too much to ask for the leader of one of the most famous bodies of English public life to watch for changes in language and mood?

If color wasn't acceptable in 2011, then we shouldn't wait nearly a decade for a man in Clarke's position to catch up.

He's not your 85 year old grandpa, he doesn't come from a time with a lexicon that is now considered totally inappropriate.

And even if it was him, Clarke's position at the helm of an organization central to debates about inclusion, equality, and progress meant that it was unacceptable for him not to know how the conversation was developing.

Clarke has previously been criticized for the language he used when discussing racism

Clarke has previously been criticized for the language he used when discussing racism

His tempering was ridiculous. After working in the US – he was Chief Executive Officer of Cable & Wireless until 2000 – he got used to using the term "People of Color" as part of their diversity protocols.

Indeed, and had he used the same term on Tuesday, there would have been no problem – at least not with that particular phrase.

But how did "people with color" become the antiquated "colored" people in his speech after his return from America? It doesn't take a racial student to identify "colored" as a colonial term, or to understand that it is now viewed as a bow with terrible connotations from the plantations of Virginia to apartheid South Africa.

Clarke, as a leader or organization supposed to be at the forefront of gender equality issues, should have been particularly attuned to these nuances.

Just as he should have been aware that at a time when only 10 out of 4,000 professional footballers were British-Asiatic – 0.25 percent of the players from seven percent of the population – that community was considered computer nerds, not potential athletes stereotyping, this was not helpful.

These are not just words or opinions taken from a man who was the game's figurehead. When the Asian community feels distant from football – as a player, not as a consumer – it is the association's job to forge links and not to indulge in the old bans.

Paul Elliott introduced a new diversity code with the FA last month to tackle racial inequality

Paul Elliott introduced a new diversity code with the FA last month to tackle racial inequality

Clarke directed men's play, women's play, wheelchair play, or play by the blind. He directed the game for black and white, for people of color, for the disabled, and for those who view being gay as more than a lifestyle choice and for anyone who felt out of the mainstream because of race, physicality, or sexuality.

We can still find departments, but assuming that role is the way forward. The chairman of the FA must lead football for all, and if he goes before the DCMS committee and looks like he's just another old, touchless white guy whose shortcomings should be addressed because he's an old man, it's coming a time when we wonder how much longer we have to accept this as the way of the world.

Last month, Clarke's FA introduced a new diversity code to tackle racial inequality. Paul Elliott, the head of the FA's Inclusion Board, undoubtedly speaks highly of Clarke's commitment.

While underrepresentation of BAME at the board level and coaching level is often discussed, strategies like the Rooney Rule never seem to apply to the top jobs at the FA. So it's no wonder that we are confronted with language from the past?

Inadvertently, Clarke could prove to be a real catalyst for change. because frankly, after the debacle on Tuesday, I can't bear this.