Senior Liberal Democrats sign letter praising former FA inclusion adviser Edward Lord after his abrupt sacking

Earlier this month, Edward Lord, who until last Thursday sat on the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, criticised the FA for not taking inclusion and diversity seriously enough. In an interview with the Telegraph on 3rd September, he said:

The public and the rest of the sport industry are getting fed up with football’s inability to tackle discrimination in the game.  Most other governing bodies have really embraced the need for change, to make their sports more inclusive. It always seems as though football is lagging behind. The FA must take action when participants so flagrantly breach their rules against discrimination.

He was referring in part to the fact that the FA took no action against Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore when his highly sexist emails were published.

Last Thursday, the FA sacked him from his role on the Inclusion Advisory Board. You have to wonder what this says about their actual commitment to tackling discrimination. Their statement was uncompromising:

It is not about what Edward has stated publicly, but a matter and question of conduct and respect for colleagues. The group collectively felt that all trust in Edward, due to his repeated failure to work in the spirit of collaboration, had broken down irretrievably.

Edward  had earlier put out a statement in which he gave his view:

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.

Today,  29 figures from sport, politics and the arts have written to the Telegraph to speak out on Edward’s behalf. They include Liberal Democrat ministers Jo Swinson and Lynne Featherstone, LGBT Plus Liberal Democrats chair Ed Fordham and Lord Navnit Dholakia. The chairman of the London Football Association and others from all parties and none also signed the letter which says:

Having known and worked with Edward Lord, the inclusion adviser dismissed by the Football Association last week, we are surprised by the FA’s statement announcing his departure. Without taking sides in the dispute, we believe the statement describes a character that we simply don’t recognise.

In our experience Mr Lord is a capable, professional, and collegial board member, and an inspiring advocate for equality and social inclusion, whose public service has been recognised at the highest level.

As group chairman of the Amateur Swimming Association – representing England’s largest participation sport – and through his continuing involvement in football, we are certain he will still lead the way in UK sport by speaking out for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

When such a significant group of people across the equalities and sporting fields speak up for someone, maybe the FA should take note.


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One Comment

  • There is currently an article on LDV expressing bewilderment at the diverse people in London for not voting Lib Dem. This article demonstrates why they don’t vote Lib Dem.

    The top level of football has a far higher percentage of BME players than exist in the UK population. It has a far higher percentage of players from low socio-economic backgrounds than exist in the UK population, yet here we have an article by an anonymous source from a party without a single BME MP that is dominated by white, privately educated men, expressing contempt for a much-loved sport because of its,……. wait for it,…… lack of diversity! What lack of diversity exactly? – football is admittedly under-represented by the following groups: ‘White British’, ‘Privately Educated’, ‘Middle Class’. That is the real problem here and it tells us why the people of London don’t vote Lib Dem – why would they vote for a party of white, middle-class people that deride the interests of people outside of their own group?

    “As group chairman of the Amateur Swimming Association – representing England’s largest participation sport ”

    When was the last time you saw a BME swimmer? It is beyond parody that someone from swimming should be attacking football for a lack of diversity.

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