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The Football Association is taking the unprecedented step of considering its legal options after “fundamentally” disagreeing with the findings of an independent panel that ruled former Crawley manager John Yems was not “consciously racist.”
Yems, 63, had been accused of making 16 comments which were in breach of FA Rule E3.2 between 2019 and 2022. They were alleged to have referenced either ethnic origin, race, nationality, colour, gender or religion.
He previously admitted to one charge by the FA but denied the other 15. The independent regulatory commission then found 11 of the claims to be proven and four unproven during a hearing. That led to Yems being banned from all football activity until June 1 2024, with the FA saying they had requested a longer suspension.
In the written reasons published on Monday, the independent commission said: “We have accepted that Mr Yems is not a conscious racist. If he were, an extremely lengthy, even permanent, suspension would be appropriate.”
But in a statement the governing body said: “The FA brought 16 charges of discrimination against John Yems. The independent regulator commission decided on an 18-month ban for the 12 charges which it upheld or was admitted. We had requested a longer ban.
“Based on the evidence presented to the commission, we fundamentally disagree with the independent panel's finding that this was not a case of conscious racism. As a result, we are considering our legal options.”
(Image: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
The three-man independent panel, which is selected from a wider pool of people with legal expertise or experience in the industry, was made up of Robert Englehart KC, Wolves club secretary Matt Wild and former Watford player Tony Agana.
Their report added: “We are confident that Mr Yems as a person is not a racist. Nor did Mr Yems ever intend to make racist remarks. Nevertheless, it is how what he said from time to time would be perceived by those to whom it was addressed which is what matters rather than his subjective intent.
“There was a considerable weight of evidence to the effect that Mr Yems was in the habit of, in his perception, cracking jokes which were perceived as racist by those who were the butt of the jokes. Probably, Mr Yems gave no thought at all to the effect of his language on those at whom the 'jokes' were aimed. Nor did he give any thought at all to the likely reaction of others to the language he used."
The upheld claims included that Yems would say Arnold Schwarzenegger's name in such a way to emphasise the N-word. He also repeatedly asked African players if they ate jerk chicken, despite being reminded more than once that it is a Jamaican dish, and referred to Black members of his squad as “Zulu warriors”.
Yems was also found to have told an Iraqi player that he “would probably blow up the stadium” and repeatedly referred to another player having “a bomb in his bag”. The former Crawley manager referred to another player as “curry muncher” and asked him if he wanted the club to serve “curry pizza”.