The Football Association should welcome constructive criticism rather than try to silence it. There is no point in appointing external independent advisers and then gagging them from speaking out when controversial issues arise. The FA needs to embrace these challenges as an opportunity to change the culture in our national game, tackling discrimination head on and not being afraid to stand-up to anyone who is sexist, racist, or homophobic, regardless of their position in football.
On that basis, I will not be resigning from the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board (IAB). I have done nothing wrong and I remain committed to promoting equality and challenging discrimination in football and in all sports and want to carry on doing the job I was appointed to do and for which I remain qualified.
I am saddened that IAB members say they have lost confidence in me.. They took their decision yesterday without having followed any reasonable or just procedure and without having had the benefit of my own testimony in person or the ability to question me directly. Their meeting was called with less than three working days notice and I was already committed to seeing a senior sports regulator at the time the IAB was being held at Wembley.
If it is suggested that I have in any way breached the FA’s rules then this should be independently investigated and then follow the correct procedure set out in the IAB terms of reference, which is either a vote of the full FA Board or a disciplinary hearing under the terms of the FA Council Code of Conduct.
Either way, I would hope to have the courtesy of a full personal hearing before a qualified judicial panel at which I can answer any charges with the benefit of my legal representatives being present. Anything else would be unfair and potentially discriminatory.
In light of these events, I have therefore asked for an urgent meeting with Greg Dyke, Chairman of the FA to discuss these issues. As I said in my Telegraph interview, I regard Greg, who himself is a champion of diversity, as the hope for the future of the FA.
Edward Lord OBE is a member of the Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board and Chairman of the London FA’s Inclusion Advisory Group, a role to which he was unanimously re-elected two days ago. He is also Chairman of the Group Board of the Amateur Swimming Association, an Ambassador and Role Model for LGBT charity Stonewall, and has held a number of senior national roles promoting equality and diversity, for which he was appointed an OBE in 2011.
The Chairman of the London FA issued the following statement on Tuesday evening (16 September 2014) supporting Edward’s position on behalf of the county FA’s Inclusion Advisory Group:
“Earlier this evening the London Football Association Inclusion Advisory Group met. At this meeting were people representing a number of different organisations within London as well as the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the London Football Association and members of its Council, one of whom is also the London FA representative to the Football Association.
This being the first meeting of the season for this group, elections take place and Edward Lord was unanimously elected unopposed to continue his Chairmanship of this group. The group were anxious to place on record their continuing admiration and gratitude for the interest, work and commitment he shows towards their cause.
The recent article in the Daily Telegraph was brought to everyone’s attention by a member of the group and Edward Lord was extensively questioned on this. Edward was then requested to leave the meeting for the discussion to continue without him, which he graciously agreed to. The group then had a full and frank discussion on the article and unanimously endorsed Edward’s explanations as well as fully supporting his remarks. It is the understanding of the LFA IAG that Edward’s remarks will be discussed by the FA IAB tomorrow and wish you to advise the members of this group of the feelings of the London FA IAG.
Without Edward, and his contributions, the LFA IAG would not be in the very positive position, having completed a number of ground breaking projects that indeed, it is believed, already act as a role model for the rest of the country.”