LONDON (AP) The head of the English Football Association has threatened to quit if a set of proposals to reform the governing body is not backed by the British government.
On Thursday, lawmakers will debate a motion of “no confidence” in the FA’s ability to reform itself and meet its duties as a governing body, with critics accusing the association of a lack of diversity and unhappy with its antiquated structure.
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FA chairman Greg Clarke said he accepts that “our governance needs changing” and is “confident it will happen” once he puts proposals before the government, which could call for laws to be brought in to change the structure of the world’s oldest soccer federation.
“If the government is not supportive of the changes when they are presented in the coming months, I will take personal responsibility for that. I will have failed. I will be accountable for that failure and would in due course step down from my role,” Clarke said in an open letter published late Tuesday. “However, I don’t believe that the FA is failing football.”
The debate is taking place in the House of Commons after five former FA executives said the governing body had failed to self-reform and was “outdated” as it was being held back by “elderly white men.”
British Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said in July that the FA would lose up to 40 million pounds ($50 million) of public funding if it did not reform. In December, she said the government would bring in legislation to force through reforms if the governing body did not make changes itself.
In announcing the House of Commons debate, the Culture, Media and Sport committee said last week that “it is clear there appears to be considerable resistance to the idea of changing its very out-of-date structure at all.” It said the committee is preparing a draft bill to “bring the structure of the FA – which is, in legal terms, a company – into line with modern company law.”
Clarke said the FA needs to be “more diverse, more open about decision-making and we do need to better represent those playing the game,” but has yet to go public with his proposals.
There is only one woman on the FA’s 12-person board, while reform of the body’s 120-person council has proved to be beyond a long line of recent FA chairmen.