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Greg Clarke resignation: Gareth Southgate says football must be at front of societal change

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Greg Clarke and Gareth Southgate
Greg Clarke (left) stepped down on Tuesday after using “unacceptable” language in reference to black players

Football needs to be at the forefront of societal change, England manager Gareth Southgate has said following Greg Clarke’s resignation.

Clarke stepped down as chairman of the Football Association (FA) on Tuesday after using “unacceptable” language when referring to black players.

Southgate said there was “no alternative” but for Clarke to resign.

“We can’t just keep standing in front of the cameras talking about change,” said Southgate on Wednesday.

Clarke used an offensive term in reference to black players when he appeared in front of a government select committee.

He was also criticised for comments he made referring to gay players making a “life choice”, the different career choices of people from black and Asian communities, and a coach telling him young female players did not like having the ball hit hard at them.

“We are seeing a lot of change in society and football needs to be at the front of that,” added the England boss.

“What’s a shame for him [Clarke] is he has done a lot of work behind the scenes to support the diversity code and make inroads into relationships around Europe.

“But what he said wasn’t acceptable and there was no alternative but for him to go.”

The FA has said the process to replace Clarke will be “open and conform to the Diversity Code”.

England and Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings also urged the FA to offer equal opportunities for all candidates to improve representation within the game.

Southgate praised Paul Elliot, the chairman of the FA’s inclusion advisory board and a reported contender for the role.

“The reforms Paul has helped to put in place deserve a lot of commendation,” he said.

“What I admire about someone like Paul is he has committed himself to football administration. There are a lot of hours to that.”

Germany ‘strongest possibility’ to host Iceland game

England face the Republic of Ireland in a friendly at Wembley on Thursday (20:00 GMT kick-off).

Southgate’s side are also due to play Iceland next Wednesday but the fixture is in doubt because of government travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK has a travel ban on non-UK visitors coming from Denmark, where Iceland are playing this weekend.

Southgate said Germany could host the match, while Albania has also been discussed as an option.

“We’ll know more tomorrow. If we can’t play in England, it looks as though taking the game to Germany would be the strongest possibility for that,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ryan Sessegnon has withdrawn from the England Under-21s squad after being recalled by Hoffenheim over Covid-19 protocols in Germany.

Hoffenheim want their players to quarantine after a request from the German authorities and an increase in cases at the Bundesliga club.

Sessegnon, who is on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, tested negative on Tuesday but the 20-year-old – who can play at left-wing and left-back – will miss the final two European Under-21 Championship qualifiers against Andorra and Albania.

Venue: Wembley Stadium, London Date: Thursday, 12 November Time: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and live text on the BBC Sport website & app

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