LONDON, Oct 24 — UK Sports Minister Tracey Crouch warned English football’s governing body the Football Association (FA) their desire to bid for top events could be curtailed if they don’t “get themselves in order”.
Crouch, a qualified FA coach, told the Daily Telegraph FA chairman Greg Clarke was “wrong” to believe the government lacked the powers to run the rule over the FA as the imminent implementation of the Government’s Code for Sports Governance will give her the powers to do just that.
Her remarks come in the wake of what was seen as a disastrous performance by both Clarke and FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn at a UK parliamentary hearing last week.
They were responding to criticisms of their handling of racism allegations made by Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence against now former national women’s team boss Mark Sampson.
A report into the allegations released just prior to the hearing contradicted a flawed FA internal review and an earlier enquiry concluding that Sampson did make remarks “discriminatory on grounds of race”—‘ill-judged attempts at humour’—but was not a racist.
“The FA have got to get themselves in order,” said Crouch.
“That does mean a change in culture within the Football Association.
“And I would expect them to reflect on that and to make it very clear that the Eni Aluko case-Sampson affair will not happen again.”
Crouch was unequivocal when asked would the withdrawal of Government guarantees which is required for bids for major events—such as the Women’s 2021 European Championships and are rumoured to be eyeing the 2023 Champions League final—be used as a bargaining tool if the FA did not get their house in order.
“Absolutely,” she said .
Crouch said Clarke was ‘wrong’ to think the FA were immune from interference by government and that if such a scandal as the Sampson one was to re-occur their funding would be up for debate.
“If that (the mishandling of the Sampson affair) had happened next year then there would be that opportunity for us to sit there and reflect on whether or not there was a funding consequence for that,” said the 42-year-old, who has been in her job since 2015.
However, devoted Tottenham fan Crouch stopped short of demanding Clarke and Glenn resigned—seven of the 11 member Parliamentary committee had suggested they consider their positions.
“While I completely understand what people are saying, I don’t think it is for a minister to turn around and say that somebody should go in a governing body,” she said. — AFP