Government pressure leads to English FA diversity overhaul

Football Association , FA, CEO Martin Glenn pauses during a press conference after the 131st International Football Association Board (IFAB) annual general meeting at Wembley stadium in London, Friday, March 3, 2017. Sin bins and rolling substitutions will be allowed in the lower levels of soccer after being approved by the game's lawmaking body. ( AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON — World soccer's oldest governing body is being overhauled in a diversity drive intended to prevent the English organization having changes enforced by the government.

The English Football Association has been threatened with the loss of public funding unless more woman and ethnic minorities are brought into the a href='https://apnews.com/1f7ad70f265d4847b626e98a89394285/English-FA-faces-lawmakers'-no-confidence-vote,-reforms'decision-making process/a. The House of Commons has already a href='https://apnews.com/aa8c98b9ddd04b77a8fba0fe365aa213'declared it has "no confidence" in the FA/a over its failure to reflect modern society in England.

The FA Board has backed plans to guarantee three places for woman and restrict members to three terms of three years. The larger ruling council will also add 11 members to ensure it "better reflects the inclusive and diverse nature of English football," the FA said. Of the council's 122 members, 114 are currently men, 92 are aged over 60 and only four are from ethnic minorities.

The FA Council, which chairman Greg Clarke is pushing to hold sessions in public in future, has to approve the proposed changes. It also has to comply with the government's new code for sports bodies. But ministers must tread a cautious path to avoid FIFA sanctioning England if there is deemed to be government interference.

"If (the government) say 'This is unacceptable,' I don't know who is going to do better and if you trust government to come in and run football, yabadabadoo, let them have a go," FA chairman Greg Clarke said Monday. "Whether FIFA can do anything, you'd have to ask a lawyer. ... If we go out of our way to annoy them and they want some payback they could cut up rough."

Clarke described his blueprint as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to fundamentally change the way football works" and urged the FA Council to pass the changes next month.

"I've had that conversation from someone saying, 'you can't force me,'" Clarke said. "I said, 'Try me. Take me on. In the court of public opinion if you think you can keep stuffing the council with grey-haired white men.'"

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