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May 20, 2009

"Lessons learned" from BNP World Cup blunder

Campaigners emerged from talks with England's World Cup bid leaders today satisfied that important lessons have been learned from the invitation of a BNP activist to this week's launch event.

Kick It Out, football's equality body, reacted with outrage after a BNP councillor was seen in a prominent position at Monday's bid launch at Wembley.

FA and bid chairman Lord Triesman met Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley and several other concerned parties today to try to assuage their concerns.

Ouseley said afterwards he believed Triesman had got the message that both the bid team and the FA generally needed to appoint more representatives from BME [black and minority ethnic] groups, more women and more disabled people.

Ouseley told PA Sport: "We expressed our concerns about the way the launch was conducted - Kick It Out have received more than 100 calls or emails expressing horror at the way in which the BNP were at the launch.

"We all accepted this was an error that should not have happened and we want to help the 2018 bid team make sure nothing like this happens again.

"We are satisfied that we have had a productive and helpful meeting to move this forward for the benefit of English football.

"We want ensure that even if we do not win this bid there is a base for increased participation from all sections of the community.''

Ouseley said it was important that the bid team did not rely on bid vice-presidents John Barnes and England women's coach Hope Powell, nor board member Baroness Amos, to be token black ambassadors.

"We are not saying they need to add to the board of the bid but there are many people from different groups who could make a contribution,'' said Ouseley.

The meeting was also attended by Simon Johnson, the bid's chief operating officer, Gordon Taylor and Bobby Barnes from the PFA, Millwall's executive deputy chairman Heather Rabbatts, the BBC's Garth Crooks, former Chelsea defender Paul Elliott, and Kick It Out chief executive Piara Powar.

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