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Clarke was involved in a meeting with Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee on Tuesday morning, answering questions about the current state of football, including the failure of the Premier League to help the Football League.
Talking about the issues faced for any gay players coming out in the men's game, because of social media backlash, the 63-year-old 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."
"Coloured footballers" FA Chairman Greg Clarke trying to be a champion of diversity here but using incredibly outdated language. pic.twitter.com/EyzUOZbEaB- Dan Salisbury-Jones (@dsj_itv) November 10, 2020
Kevin Brennan MP, part of the select committee, then asked Clarke is he wanted to reconsider his use of the word coloured.
The head of the FA, who took the role in September 2016, answered saying, "If I said it I deeply apologise for it.
"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."
The FA soon released a statement on their Twitter account.
Greg Clarke is deeply apologetic for the language he used to reference members of the ethnic minority community during the select committee hearing today. He acknowledged that using the term 'coloured' is not appropriate and wholeheartedly apologised during the hearing.- FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) November 10, 2020
The apology wasn't enough to save face though as chair of the DCMS select committee, Julian Knight MP, suggested that the fact this wasn't the first time the association had slipped up on this issue suggested they aren't committed to diversity.
It's right that Greg Clarke apologised before the Committee, however, this isn't the first time that the @FA has come to grief over these issues.- Julian Knight MP (@julianknight15) November 10, 2020
It makes us question their commitment to diversity https://t.co/GadEG3Fibu
Clarke had other issues though as he made stereotypical comments about about Asian and Afro-Caribbean people working for the FA, saying, "If you go to the IT department at the FA, there's a lot more South Asians than there are Afro-Caribbeans. They have different career interests," and claimed female players don't like the ball being hit at them and suggested sexuality was a choice.
Kick It Out executive chair Sanjay Bhandari issues a statement in response to Clarke's comments, saying, "His use of outdated language to describe Black and Asian people as "coloured" is from decades ago and should remain consigned to the dustbin of history. Being gay is not a 'life choice' as he claimed too.
"The casual sexism of saying girls do not like balls hit at them hard, is staggering from anyone, let alone the leader of our national game. It is completely unacceptable.
"For all the steps made forward recently, the comments expressed today are a big step backwards."
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