Foot in mouth at the Football Association as council member ponders nominating a token Jew to governing council
Ray Kiddell, a council member for 37 years on football’s governing body, the Football Association (FA), made a very disturbing comment during an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live about reform within the game in England following scrutiny after the House of Commons passed a “no confidence” motion in the FA to reform itself, with specific criticism that its board fails to represent the diversity of the game.
Kiddell responded: “As far as ethnic minorities are concerned, we have problems, we’ve got to think ‘who are the ethnic minorities?’ At the moment we’ve got a Buddhist and a Muslim on the council. Now who else do we put on the council, a Jew.”
Kick It Out, an anti-racism campaign which fights bigotry within football and the Football Supporters’ Federation, FSF, released a joint statement on their websites condemning Kiddell’s “unhelpful comment”. They said they were “dismayed” by the remarks and complained to the FA. Kick it Out posted a disappointing and toothless response from an FA spokesperson on their website distancing itself from the comments: “His comments in this interview are completely at odds with the views of the FA and we will address this matter internally.”
But Kick It Out should also focus on putting its own house in order. Earlier this month, Lord Ouseley, the Chairman of Kick It Out, co-signed a letter to The Guardian calling for the Labour Party to readmit Marc Wadsworth, a Labour activist who was suspended by the Party for his actions at the launch of Baroness Chakrabarti’s whitewash report into antisemitism in the Party. With Jeremy Corbyn and Baroness Chakrabarti looking on inertly, Wadsworth stood to harangue Ruth Smeeth, a Labour MP who is Jewish, of conspiring with the media. Smeeth left the event in tears and called on Jeremy Corbyn to resign.