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SBD Global/October 21, 2013/International Football

England Defender Ferdinand, Manager Hodgson Join Football Association Commission

The FA says England Manager Roy Hodgson and ManU defender Rio Ferdinand "have joined a commission to investigate the failings of the national team," according to the AFP. Ferdinand's appointment comes after FA board member Heather Rabbatts criticized FA Chair Greg Dyke "for naming an all-male, all-white commission." Their appointments "take the number of people on the commission to 10." The commission "will look at ways to increase the number of English players playing in the Premier League and is expected to present a report by the end of March next year" (AFP, 10/21). In London, Ian Herbert wrote Dyke's attempts to create a commission to improve the England national football team "descended into acrimony and farce" as he was forced to admit that he "had been wrong to omit an ethnic minority representative from its initial members." Dyke came under attack from Rabbatts, his fellow FA board member, and new Sport & Equalities Minister Helen Grant "over the all-white, all-male commission members announced so far." Dyke described Rabbatts' criticism of him as "unfair" and expressed his clear displeasure with the fact she had chosen to go public. He also blamed this week's Hodgson "monkey" controversy for the fact that "ethnic representatives have not been named for the commission, to date" (INDEPENDENT, 10/20).

DYKE'S RESPONSE: The SUNDAY TIMES' Warren Shore wrote Dyke, who is expected to include at least one prominent black football figure when he names the final two members of the commission on Wednesday, said in response Saturday, "To suggest we never considered the ethnic balance of the commission is unfair." Grant, who is also equalities minister, stepped into the row, saying that "she would speak to the FA this week." Grant: "Sports' governing bodies must reflect the make-up of the diverse society that we live in. I expect the FA to ensure that voices from all backgrounds are heard loud and clear and contribute to this important piece of work to help strengthen English football" (SUNDAY TIMES, 10/20). In London, Jason Burt wrote Dyke revealed that the FA had vetoed a proposal to appoint black footballer Clarke Carlisle onto the commission -- because it wanted its new chairman instead -- while other "individuals from the BAME (Black and Ethnic Minority) community" felt unable to make the "time commitments." Rabbatts said that she "had tried to raise the issue of the lack of proper representation on the commission privately, but there had been a 'refusal to understand' her position." There were further attacks on the FA with football's two most important anti-discrimination organizations, Kick It Out and the European body Football Against Racism in Football (FARE), describing the FA's Commission as a "big mistake" and a "public relations disaster." Meanwhile senior England players "want to hold a meeting at the next squad get-together to remind team-mates of the damage that can be caused by leaking information from the dressing room." It follows on from the "bizarre row" over Hodgson's joke about a "space monkey" which was wrongly interpreted as a racist slur aimed at Tottenham winger Andros Townsend. Senior players are believed to be upset at the treatment of the England manager with Wayne Rooney describing it as "annoying that something such as this should see the light of day" (TELEGRAPH, 10/19).

EPL COMMITMENT: SKY SPORTS reported EPL CEO Richard Scudamore has insisted the Premier League is "fully committed" to helping the FA develop more England players. The Premier League was criticized for declining an offer from Dyke "to take a position on his FA commission designed to improve the national game." Scudamore: "The Premier League is absolutely committed to playing a central part in that discussion, just as our clubs are to producing more and better home-grown players" (SKY SPORTS, 10/19).
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