AFP, Jan. 27
LONDON — The Football Association has scrapped an official DVD of England’s greatest post-war internationals because it did not feature a single black player, a spokesman announced.
The DVD, entitled ‘The Pride of the Nation’, has been included in a welcome pack for newcomers to the ‘englandfans’ official members’ club.
The initial list given to video producers Octagon was understood to have included black players but none of them made the final cut when the running time was reduced to 30 minutes.
Many of the remaining 17 players are not controversial choices, including Bobby Moore, Gary Lineker, Bobby Charlton, Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer, Bryan Robson, David Beckham and Terry Butcher.
However, Martin Peters, Chris Waddle, Stuart Pearce and Steven Gerrard were also included.
But black players such as Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, Paul Ince, John Barnes, Ashley Cole and Viv Anderson — who in 1978 became England’s first black international — were overlooked.
And following complaints, the governing body is now set to produce a new DVD featuring black players as the old one is withdrawn.
FA head of communications Adrian Bevington said: “The FA is fully committed to promoting diversity in all areas of the game and in society.
“We regret and apologise for any offence that may have been caused due to a lack of black player representation on this DVD.
“With immediate effect, the DVD, which have been distributed to new members of the ‘englandfans’ club to date, has been withdrawn.
“The FA is in the process of producing a new DVD, which will include several outstanding black players, who have, of course, made a huge contribution to the national team and football in this country.
“Additionally, the FA is writing a letter of apology to all England fans who have received the original compilation, together with a copy of the new DVD.
“A letter will also be sent to the Professional Footballers’ Association, apologising for any offence caused to any current or former players.”
Ferdinand, tackled on the issue at a racism initiative launched by Thierry Henry, said: “If the FA have chosen the players on their ability and not on their colour, fair enough.
“Personally, I would have put some black players in my list like John Barnes and Ian Wright.”
The FA’s apology was meanwhile welcomed by Piara Powar, spokesman for the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign.
“We can understand the concerns that have been raised as black players have contributed an immense amount to the game in England, but the FA’s apology shows they realise that they have made a faux-pas,” he said.
The original list of players was selected by a group of ‘englandfans’ members, but the FA, who complained loudly at racist taunting aimed at black England players in a friendly with Spain in Madrid last November, had final responsibility for the DVD’s contents.
“There have been numerous outstanding black footballers since Viv Anderson’s debut in 1978 and that should have been highlighted on the original DVD,” Bevington added.