Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Dyke pours cold water on FA row

Roy Hodgson will join the commission

Greg Dyke has moved to try to end the revolt that has engulfed the Football Association by announcing Rio Ferdinand and Roy Hodgson will join his England Commission.

Dyke's first crisis since he took over as FA chairman came after FA board member Heather Rabbatts publicly criticised the all-white and all-male make-up of the commission.

Rabbatts was backed up by anti-discrimination groups, with sports and equalities minister Helen Grant also expressing concern, and it led to a frantic weekend for the FA before it finally was able to announce the appointment of Manchester United defender Ferdinand and England manager Roy Hodgson.

Dyke is understood to have emailed all board members to consult them about the appointments - something he was criticised for failing to do before announcing the first eight names on his commission, none of whom were from an ethnic minority.

The appointment of Ferdinand - who was an outspoken critic of the handling of the John Terry racism case - can be seen as a victory for Rabbatts, though Dyke insisted that the FA had been in talks with Ferdinand for some time.

Dyke said: "Rio's vast experience as a player developed through West Ham's successful youth system, winning Premier League and European titles with Manchester United and representing England at World Cups means he has a huge amount to offer to the debate.

"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.

"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."

Rabbatts, who had suggested Reading striker Jason Roberts as a suitable candidate, has sought further assurances from Dyke that other people may be appointed onto the commission, but has been unable to secure any guarantees.

Rabbatts said: "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.

"Like many who have spoken out I want to see the commission be successful in its mission to strengthen the future talent pool for the England team. However, 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."

The appointment of England manager Hodgson had been delayed until after the end of the World Cup qualifiers.

Dyke said: "It is important Roy can offer his views as the current manager of the national team and share the knowledge he has gained when working for many years in a number of countries. I wanted the international fixtures to be completed before announcing this to avoid any distractions for Roy at such an important time."

The Commission will now start to gather evidence and information and canvass opinions from "numerous people in football and sport", said Dyke.

He added: "It is important we do not lose sight of the Commission's main purpose. That is - finding a way of delivering long-term success for the England men's senior team, particularly by identifying ways to increase the number of players available to the national team playing regularly at the highest level of English football or abroad."

Former England manager Glenn Hoddle, already announced as a member of the commission, welcomed the new members.

Hoddle told Sky Sports: "I think people like this (being involved), it's going to be invaluable.

"Rio is a very astute guy to be putting on there with his experience. He is still playing and has a lot of respect in the game. It will be lovely to hear his perspective."

Piara Powar, executive director of the European anti-discrimination body FARE, questioned why the commission was still all-male.

He said on Twitter: "Still can't work out why no women on this important body. Even if it only looks at men's football, should draw on insight from the women's game."

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