The Football Association has appealed against the 18-month football ban imposed on former Crawley Town boss John Yems.
An independent regulatory committee banned Yems until June 2024 after admitting one charge and found guilty of 11 others relating to comments referring to ethnic origin, color, race, nationality, religion, beliefs or gender between 2019 and 2022.
The FA had pushed for a two-year ban and said last week it “fundamentally disagrees” with the panel’s findings that it was not a case of “conscious racism”.
Kick It Out said it was “very difficult to understand” the panel’s findings, while Tony Burnett, the organisation’s chief executive, described them as ‘utterly bizarre’.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham revealed on Wednesday his organization was exploring its legal options and the governing body has now upheld an appeal.
In a statement, the FA said: “We are appealing the sanction imposed by the independent panel on John Yems.
“We believe a longer sanction is appropriate. We cannot comment further until the appeal is complete.”
The investigation into Yems began when a number of Sky Bet League Two club players presented their grievances to the Professional Footballers’ Association.
Yems was banned from football for 18 months, believed to be the longest sentence ever handed out for using discriminatory language, after the panel ruled his remarks were “offensive, racist and Islamophobic”.
The panel concluded that Yems:
- Describes Muslim team members as ‘terrorists’
- Deliberately mispronounced the second half of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name to emphasize the N-word
- Used a racial stereotype to a black player of African descent when asking him if he liked jerk chicken
- I said to Muslim players “your people are blowing things up with vests”
- Said a young Iraq international at the club ‘would probably blow up the stadium’
- Repeatedly made comments about another player “carrying a bomb in their bag”
- Called a player a ‘curry muncher’ and asked if the player was unhappy about not being served ‘curry pizza’
- Remarked to a player about ‘how dark his skin is’ on his return to Crawley after representing Grenada
Four allegations were dismissed, including allegations that he separated players from Crawley and based his team selections on race.
The panel agreed with Yems’ lawyers that their client was not racist and that he “never intended to make racist remarks”, adding in their findings: “We view this as an extremely serious case. .
“We have accepted that Mr. Yems is not a conscious racist. If he were, an extremely long, if not permanent, suspension would be appropriate.
“Nevertheless, Mr. Yems’ ‘jokes’ undoubtedly came across to victims and others as offensive, racist and Islamophobic. Mr. Yems simply ignored the distress caused by his inappropriate joke. “
The FA was unhappy that the panel chose in its judgment to consider whether Yems is a “racist”, when the panel’s job was in fact to assess whether racist language had been used.
The panel consisted of former black footballer Tony Agana, experienced solicitor Robert Englehart KC and Wolves club secretary Matt Wild.
Sky Sports News spoke to Yems after the initial ruling, and he remained adamant that he is not a racist and underlines the words of the independent panel which said he “is not a conscious racist”.
Yems admitted that at the age of 63 he lacked education and used outdated language.
PFA: There should be no excuses
The PFA’s senior EDI education officer, Jason Lee, welcomed the FA’s decision to appeal and added: “The full written reasons (from the panel), which were released last week, essentially excuse the behavior and language that resulted in 11 charges of discriminatory behavior and a ban being given.
“We believe it was not necessary for the commission to assess his language and behavior in this way beyond deciding whether it was discriminatory. They clearly concluded that it was but, going beyond Beyond that in their written reasons, they offered a rationale that is utterly unnecessary and, in our view, utterly baseless.
“In doing so, they angered and upset many people, including those who came forward to the PFA to hold John Yems to account. Each individual is responsible for the impact of their words and their behavior. There should be no excuses. fabricated.
“As a union, the PFA will continue to support those involved moving forward.”
Burnett: FA conclusion ‘completely and utterly bizarre’
Tony Burnett, the managing director of Kick It Out, said it was ‘utterly bizarre’ that the panel concluded Yems was not a ‘conscious racist’ despite revealing a series of offensive racial remarks made by Crawley’s former manager.
Burnett said Sky Sports News“I don’t know John Yems, but unless the FA is channeling some sort of superpower that I’m not aware of, they have no jurisdiction and they are in fact not qualified to determine whether an individual is racist or not.
“How you can come to such a conclusion in a case like this is completely beyond me.
“What that tells me in the way this report is structured is that football has a problem with behaviours. Football has a problem establishing what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, really defining it and really fit into the game.”
Yems was initially charged after Crawley’s players filed a complaint with the Professional Footballers’ Association, and Burnett said: “What the PFA has done to support these players, and to get the players to come forward, is a landmark and it is a turning point for football. .
“But we have to take this turn very seriously and use it as a basis to drive appropriate behavior in football.”
Burnett also questioned the length of Yems’ suspension and asked if the punishment would have been so lenient in another industry, saying, “If you look at the seriousness of some of these comments, I’ve never heard this. level of seriousness, These are simply offensive and disgusting remarks made in a work environment.
“I’ve been involved in this industry for 25 years. In any other area of life it would be instant dismissal, but in football – for whatever reason – we have a different standard for this set of behaviors and we trying to interpret if an individual is racist, I find that completely and utterly bizarre.
“I think the facts are the facts, and the facts that we have established are that a number of truly offensive comments were made to Crawley employees by a senior manager of an organization, and we cannot determine whether this guy is not racist.
“I don’t make that claim at all, but I certainly know the FA panel doesn’t have the power or the insight to determine that either.
“What we can say is that the behavior is appalling and needs to be addressed. I’m not sure a suspension until June 2024 is an appropriate sanction for what I’m reading here.”
“The panel’s point of view is very difficult to understand”
Kick It Out had said it was “very difficult to understand” how the FA’s independent panel had concluded Yems was not a conscious racist, adding that it would be in contact with the governing body over the matter.
His statement read: “The discriminatory language depicted in the FA’s independent report is simply shocking.
“Given the seriousness of the incidents detailed, it is very difficult to understand how the FA’s independent panel concluded that ‘Mr Yems is not a conscious racist’. We do not share this view.
“The behavior described in the report must be exposed for exactly what it is: racism and Islamophobia.
“Speaking plainly, a ban until June 2024 – given the seriousness of the 11 proven charges – is a slap in the face for the victims of the discriminatory abuses detailed in this report and for anyone who has experienced racism or Islamophobia.
“Furthermore, to reduce his long series of offensive, Islamophobic and racist slurs to mere ‘misplaced jocularity’ shows a complete lack of understanding of the damage this language can cause or the power dynamics that exist in the game.
“This ruling also sets a dangerous precedent by allowing authors to hide behind a ‘bantering’ defense when they intentionally use harmful and discriminatory language, and we will be in touch with the FA to understand how the panel arrived at this. conclusion.
“We salute the courage of the victims of this case to come forward and encourage anyone involved in gaming who unfortunately finds themselves in similar situations to contact us at Kick It Out.”
Bamba: FA must do more
Sol Bamba, the former Cardiff, Leeds and Leicester centre-back, has said Sky Sports News that he was “bothered” by the panel’s findings that Yems was not a “conscious racist” and that his comments could be characterized as “jokes”.
“I understand where Kick It Out is coming from because, the FA being the keepers, you want them to have a strong response when things like this happen,” Bamba said.
“You have to think about the casualties because when you’re playing at this kind of level you worry about coming out and reporting these allegations and whether it’s going to affect your career. In my opinion, the FA needs to do more.
“It bothered me a bit because I saw the comments he made and they were very, very bad. They were racist, in my opinion – there’s no two way about it.
“So for the FA to say there is no conscious racism does not sit well with me. The punishment is not good enough.
“The word ‘joke’ bothered me right away because everyone should know that these kind of racist comments are not jokes. They affect people and shouldn’t be used anymore. It’s as simple as that .”
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