Tyrone Mings believes that appointing a black person as Greg Clarke’s successor would be a “huge step” but that equal opportunities for all within football must be the ultimate goal.
Clarke resigned as chairman of the Football Association on Tuesday evening after using the term “coloured” to refer to players from minority ethnic backgrounds while appearing in front of a government select committee.
While appearing in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Clarke also claimed that there are “a lot more South Asians than there are Afro-Caribbeans” in the FA’s IT department because “they have different career interests”.
The 63-year-old, who has been in charge of English football’s governing body since 2017, apologised when censured by the committee MPs then resigned later in the day, describing his remarks as a “disservice to our game”.
Mings, who joined Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd during the summer and has worked alongside the FA on their new Football Leadership Diversity Code, said that Clarke’s words showed much work was still left to be done in football’s struggle to combat discrimination.
The Aston Villa defender, who was speaking ahead of England’s friendly with the Republic of Ireland on Thursday night and while news of Clarke’s resignation broke, added that he would welcome an FA chairman from a minority ethnic background but that inclusion and opportunity for all must be the priority.
“Of course it would be a huge step,” Mings said. “It would be everything that a lot of people have worked for, a lot of people more senior than myself, a lot of people who have been fighting for this cause for a lot longer than myself.
“But ultimately that isn’t what we’re asking for, we’re not necessarily asking for the next chairman or chief to be black, what we’re asking for is equal opportunities for black and white people, or ethnic minorities.
“So the opportunities to be equal, the candidates themselves to be rightly qualified for the job, because I don’t think anyone would want the job, whether you were black or white, if you weren’t qualified for it and weren’t equipped to be successful in that role.
“We are not necessarily asking for that as a sign of ‘we’ve made it now’ or ‘that’s what we’re fighting for’, what we’re asking for really is equal opportunities for everybody to have a fair crack of the whip.”
Mings acknowledged Clarke’s apology but said that his comments should not be excused as a generational slip of the tongue or excused, but instead used to highlight the work that remains to be done on building an inclusive sport.
“I don’t think there’s any excusing it and I wouldn’t sit here and try and defend something because of the fact he came out and apologised,” he added.
“I think [Clarke] knows he’s done wrong, I think he knows he fell short of what he should know and I think that’s what we’re asking for really, that you understand the world we’re living in and understand what you can and can’t say. So I don’t think it’s necessarily an excuse and I don’t think he would necessarily sit here and excuse it himself.
“It was unfortunate it happened today. Unfortunately that was the case because we are living in a society with such great work and trying to drive things forward and highlight these sort of topics. I don’t think it has set us back. I don’t think that one bit. But it has shone a light on what we are saying.
“We still have a long way to go. We still have to educate each other. We still have to stay on top of it. And we still have to be aware ourselves and take responsibility ourselves for what we say and ultimately the decisions we make.
“I would not sit here and defend it but at the same time, there is an element of understanding.
“When I say understanding, educating the generations coming through is one thing but also understanding that we are living in one world and people who came before us are living in another one so I don’t think anyone would argue that. It is about moving with the times and understanding the times we are living with.”
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