FA's Greg Clarke felt reforms would get him fired, John Amaechi says
Football Association chairman Greg Clarke told John Amaechi he would not risk pushing through reforms on diversity because it would get him "f---ing fired," the former NBA star has said.
Amaechi, a leading psychologist and expert on organisational change, said Clarke also claimed the government would never force the FA to act on homophobia because "we have all the power and FIFA would step in and call it government interference."
These alleged comments came during a "tense but civil" meeting at Amaechi's office in London in March and will only heighten the pressure Clarke is already under for his mishandling of the Mark Sampson scandal.
Clarke contacted Amaechi to say he wanted to talk about persuading a gay footballer to come out -- something the FA boss had warned gay players not to consider at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing on homophobia in sport last October.
The hour-long meeting, however, shocked Amaechi, as he had not expected a lecture on how "amazingly well Clarke and the FA were doing".
Speaking to Press Association Sport, Amaechi said he tried to explain to Clarke that "pinning your hopes on a player coming out and making everything OK" was not how you would make a "meaningful change."
The first former NBA player to come out publicly in 2007, Amaechi said the pair then got into a "pissing contest" about who was smarter, before Clarke explained his hands were tied by reactionary elements on the FA Council.
"He was very descriptive and dismissive about these octogenarian blazers and, reading between the lines, he was saying they are a bunch of racist and sexist old men who block progressive changes," Amaechi said.
"I told him he should do something that would have an impact and he said, 'That's what cost the last guy his job and and I'm not getting f---ing fired for equality.'"
This is a reference to his predecessor Greg Dyke, who repeatedly clashed with the council for being too male, too old and too white.
Amaechi said when he told Clarke he thought the government would eventually intervene if gay people in football did not feel secure in their workplaces, the former Leicester director and English Football League chairman said, "They won't do a f---ing thing."
Clarke said FIFA would view this as interference and would suspend the FA, preventing England from playing international football.
"This made me realise the FA is the Saatchi of diversity and equality -- they make great posters but they don't do anything," Amaechi added.
The FA confirmed that Clarke met with Amaechi, with a spokesperson saying: "Homophobia in football is an important subject and one the chairman feels passionately about."
The spokesperson added Clarke "had a private meeting with John Amaechi in March to discuss potential ways how he and the FA can work most effectively in the field of LGBT inclusion. They had a strong, healthy and robust debate and the chairman valued John's personal insight and suggestions."
DCMS committee chairman Damian Collins has taken a dim view of events, suggesting earlier this week resignations were in order, and on Friday night he told Press Association Sport: "I think the only people who think the FA leadership is doing a good job at the moment are Greg Clarke and [chief executive] Martin Glenn.
"Greg Clarke's comments on diversity are a tragic reflection of the attitudes that still exist within the FA on such serious issues, and these need to be confronted rather than appeased."
Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn are reported to have received the qualified support of the FA board after an appearance before the DCMS committee on Wednesday that has been described in damning terms by politicians and people within the game.