FA chair allegedly refused to push through diversity reforms
FOOTBALL Association chair Greg Clarke told John Amaechi he would not risk pushing through reforms on diversity because it would get him “fucking fired,” the former NBA star claimed yesterday.
Amaechi, a leading psychologist and expert on organisational change, said Clarke also claimed the government would never force the FA to act on homophobia because “we have all the power and Fifa would step in and call it government interference.”
These alleged comments came during a “tense but civil” meeting at Amaechi’s office in London in March and will only heighten the pressure Clarke is already under for his mishandling of the Mark Sampson scandal.
Clarke contacted Amaechi to say he wanted to talk about persuading a gay footballer to come out — something the FA boss had warned gay players not to consider at a select committee hearing on homophobia in sport last October.
The hour-long meeting, however, shocked Amaechi, as he had not expected a lecture on how “amazingly well Clarke and the FA were doing.”
Amaechi said he tried to explain to Clarke that “pinning your hopes on a player coming out and making everything OK” was not how you would make a “meaningful change.”
The first former NBA player to come out publicly in 2007, Amaechi said the pair then got
into a “pissing contest” about who was smarter, before Clarke explained his hands were tied by reactionary elements on the FA Council.
“He was very descriptive and dismissive about these octogenarian blazers and, reading between the lines, he was saying they are a bunch of racist and sexist old men who block progressive changes,” Amaechi said.
“I told him he should do something that would have an impact and he said: ‘That’s what cost the last guy his job and and I’m not getting fucking fired for equality’.”
This is a reference to his predecessor Greg Dyke, who repeatedly clashed with the council for being too male, too old and too white.
Amaechi said when he told Clarke he thought the government would eventually intervene if gay people in football did not feel secure in their workplaces, the former Leicester director and English Football League chair said: “They won’t do a fucking thing.”
Clarke said Fifa would view this as interference and would suspend the FA, preventing England from playing international football.
“This made me realise the FA is the Saatchi of diversity and equality — they make great posters but they don’t do anything,” Amaechi added.
The FA and Sports Minister Tracey Crouch are yet to respond to a request for comments on Amaechi’s claims.
Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn are understood to have received the qualified support of the FA board after an appearance before the committee on Wednesday that has been described in damning terms by politicians and people within the game.