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Rabbatts makes commission plea

19 Oct 2013 09:31:53

Rabbatts makes commission plea

Football Association board member Heather Rabbatts has launched a fierce attack on chairman Greg Dyke's decision to name an all-white, all-male commission to improve the England team.

Rabbatts, who was born in Jamaica and is of mixed race, has written to all fellow board members criticising the lack of diversity on the commission and saying the FA is letting down black players.

In her letter, she says she has tried to raise the issue privately but there has been a "refusal to understand" her position. Her decision to go public leaves Dyke and the FA facing a crisis over the commission.

The letter, a copy of which has been seen by Press Association Sport, stated: "I believe that the lack of proper consultation on the make up of the commission, the fact that no approval was sought from the board, releasing the names of the 'chosen' individuals at Leaders in Football, the composition of the commission itself and the lack of diversity, have all meant that the opportunity to lead an informed debate on the future of English players has been singularly damaged.

"I make the comments about diversity not because they are additional to this matter but because they lie at its heart."

Rabbatts' letter goes on to say it is "ironic" there is no representative from ethnic minority communities given that Andros Townsend, the Tottenham winger who played a key role in England's victories on Friday and Tuesday and then found himself at the centre of a race row this week through no fault of his own, is himself black.

Rabbatts backs the FA's support for England boss Roy Hodgson after his dressing room joke about a monkey in space but added: "As the commission looks to address all of the complexities of its brief, it will crucially have to come to a view on nationality, race and identity.

"To have announced a list without anyone who can speak from experience and in an informed manner on those three areas has exposed the FA at a vital moment.

"What is required is not tokenism but the involvement of individuals who have direct and relevant experience of what it means to represent their country while coming from diverse cultural backgrounds.

"By proceeding along this current path we are not only failing to reflect our national game but we are also letting down so many black and ethnic minority people - players, ex-players, coaches and volunteers, who have so much to offer and are so often discouraged and disheartened by the attitudes they encounter. The FA should be leading by example not reinforcing entrenched attitudes."

As well as Dyke, the commission will include former England manager Glenn Hoddle, Football League chairman Greg Clarke and FA vice-chairman Roger Burden, League Managers' Association chairman Howard Wilkinson, Professional Footballers' Association chairman Ritchie Humphreys, Crewe director of football Dario Gradi and former England defender Danny Mills.

The FA has stressed the line-up of commission members is not necessarily complete, and that many other people will also be consulted. However Dyke has said it will consist of no more than 10 members.


PA

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