English Football Association panel set up to improve the game still under fire

Adding Rio Ferdinand to commission is still not reflecting a diverse society, says critic

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 10:19pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 10:19pm

Adding Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand to an English Football Association commission to improve the national game has fallen well short of satisfying an FA board member who had criticised its all-white, all-male composition.

Heather Rabbatts accused the governing body's commission of not reflecting "the make-up of the diverse society that we live in".

The FA responded by adding Ferdinand, who is of mixed race, as well as England manager Roy Hodgson to the group, whose task is to investigate how to increase the number of England-qualified players appearing for the country's top clubs.

The issue of real diversity, and the insight that can bring, is still not fully resolved
Heather Rabbatts

FA chairman Greg Dyke said discussions with Ferdinand, who quit international football in May after winning 81 England caps, had been ongoing and they had needed to be certain he had the time to participate.

"We have been speaking to Rio and Manchester United for some time about him joining the group - before we named the other members of the commission," Dyke said. "However, as he is a current Manchester United player we needed to be sure that Rio had the necessary time to fully participate on the commission and not impact on his day job. It has been agreed he does.

"As a current player with forthright views and opinions on the game, we can look forward to Rio providing significant insight and experience."

In response, Rabbatts said the FA still had work to do. "While I can appreciate the appointment of Roy and Rio and of course welcome a degree of diversity, there are still questions which remain about the work and role of the FA commission," she said.

"The issue of real diversity, and the insight that can bring, is still not fully resolved nor are the exact terms of reference of the commission and the continued absence of the Premier League from its membership.

"Greg Dyke was right to say that this project was the FA's flagship for the future well-being of our national team and it is essential that it is overseen by a body that is truly credible and has the trust and confidence of the whole of football.

"This is still not the case - [this] announcement is a start but there is a lot more work to do," Rabbatts said.

Hodgson was added after guiding England to the World Cup finals in Brazil next year. Dyke said they had held off naming Hodgson previously so as not to distract him ahead of England's final qualifying matches.

"I wanted the international fixtures to be completed before announcing this to avoid any distractions for Roy at such an important time," Dyke said.

Other people already named on the commission are former England manager Glenn Hoddle, ex-England defender Danny Mills and League Managers' Association chairman Howard Wilkinson.

Professional Footballers' Association chairman Ritchie Humphreys, Football League chairman Greg Clarke and Crewe director of football Dario Gradi will also be involved.




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