LONDON – England’s Football Association lost a confidence vote among U.K. lawmakers, who put soccer’s governing body on notice and said they’re prepared to impose reforms.
In a 70-minute debate in Parliament, lawmakers criticized the F.A. over its failure to properly represent women, black and ethnic minority groups and gay people involved in the sport. It was also chastised for failing to plow enough money into grassroots soccer.
The body has been given until April to propose reforms, and if that plan falls short of government demands, they face an intervention.
“The clock is ticking fast and failure to reform will lead not just to the withdrawal of public money, but further considerations of legislative, regulatory and financial options to bring about this change needed,” Sports and Culture Minister Tracey Crouch told lawmakers in Parliament.
Crouch has already threatened to cut government funding to the F.A., the oldest national soccer federation in the world. The debate was called by Damian Collins, the chairman of Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee, who said soccer’s status as the national game makes it crucial as a model for inclusivity in sport.
Collins opened the debate by listing a series of previous reviews and reports calling for reforms to the F.A. that hadn’t been delivered.
“This is an issue we’ve been talking about for a very, very long time,” he said. “We believe now that legislation is the only way in which this can be delivered. That was the recommendation of the last three chairmen of the F.A. to the select committee — to say that the F.A. cannot reform itself; the turkeys won’t vote for Christmas; there has to be external pressure and external action through legislation to achieve it.”
Collins, a member of Prime Minister Theresa May’s ruling Conservative Party, pointed to the FA’s 122-member council, which has just eight women and four people from an ethnic minority sitting on it. White men over the age of 80 outnumber women, he said.