Debbie Hewitt MBE becomes the first FA chairman and will take up the role 14 months after Greg Clarke resigns due to his racist, homophobic and sexist gaffes
- Debbie Hewitt MBE Becomes First Football Association President
- A seven-member panel chose Hewitt after considering a non-executive career
- Hewitt’s career spanned more than 15 years in publicly traded, private equity-backed and private companies, across many different industries
- Named permanent successor to Greg Clarke, who stepped down last November
Debbie Hewitt MBE becomes the first football association president after a unanimous nomination by the FA board.
A seven-member selection panel led by independent FA non-executive director Kate Tinsley selected Hewitt after her extensive non-executive career spanning more than 15 years in publicly traded, private equity-backed and private companies in many different industries.
“The panel fully agreed that she has the outstanding chairperson and board expertise, across a wide range of business sectors, as well as the proven leadership skills and character required for the role,” said a statement from the FA.
Debbie Hewitt MBE Becomes First Football Association President
Hewitt, whose appointment has yet to be ratified by the FA Council, will succeed interim FA chairman Peter McCormick OBE from January 2022.
She will be a permanent successor to Greg Clarke, who stepped down last November after a series of offensive remarks during a performance for MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee.
Hewitt is currently the non-executive chairman of Visa Europe, The Restaurant Group plc, BGL Group and White Stuff.
She is stepping down from The Restaurant Group, which includes chains such as Wagamama and Frankie and Benny’s, after six years in the role when she joins the FA in January.
“I am delighted to be nominated for the role of Non-Executive Chairman of The Football Association,” said Hewitt, who received an MBE in 2011 for service to business and the public sector.
“As the events of recent months have shown, this is an important moment for English football, with a clear goal for all stakeholders to ensure the long-term health of the game at all levels.
She will be a permanent successor to Greg Clarke, who resigned last November after a series of offensive remarks during a performance for MPs on the DCMS committee
“I have been passionate about football from a young age and I am excited about the opportunity to play my part in shaping the future of something that means so much to so many.
“I look forward to working with our CEO Mark Bullingham and the team at Wembley Stadium and St George’s Park, and enjoy the opportunity to chair an organization that has the potential to be a very positive force to be for good throughout the game and in society.’
The FA Council will be asked to formally ratify the appointment at its next meeting on July 22, with McCormick remaining in position as interim chairman until Hewitt officially starts next year.
Hewitt will succeed interim FA chairman Peter McCormick OBE from January 2022
“This is an excellent appointment for the FA and English football in general. Debbie was the prime candidate from a talented and experienced field,” said Tinsley.
“She immediately demonstrated her passion and ability to positively influence the direction of the FA on a national and global level, while providing strong and principled leadership.”
Clarke stepped down as chairman of the FA after a disastrous crackdown in parliament in which he referred to ‘colored footballers’ in a host of other offensive blunders last year.
In his resignation statement, Clarke admitted that comments in which he also stereotyped South Asians and described homosexuality as a “life choice” were “unacceptable” but claimed he had been considering the FA for some time.
In an extraordinary appearance via video link before the DCMS committee, Clarke used the phrase “footballers of color” when discussing online racial abuse and claimed that South Asians and Afro-Caribbean people have “different career interests” due to the composition of the IT department from FA.
He was also criticized for saying a coach had told him the lack of female goalkeepers was due to girls not liking the ball being kicked at them, while Stonewall UK was one of those to condemn his suggestion that gay being a ‘choice for life’.
Clarke apologized for the “colored” comment shortly after, after being urged to do so by Kevin Brennan MP.
FA chairman Greg Clarke resigns after speaking of ‘colored footballers’ and claiming South Asians and Afro-Caribbean people have ‘different career interests’ amid MPs’ grilling of car accidents
CLARKE ON RAS
“When I look at what’s happening to high-profile female soccer players, high-profile football players of color, and the abuse they take on social media… social media is a free-for-all.”
CLARKE ON RACE II
“If you go to the IT department of the FA, there are a lot more South Asians than Afro-Caribbeans. They have different career interests.’
CLARKE ON SEXUALITY
“The real problem is that once you’re in front of 60,000 people and you’ve decided on Monday that you want to reveal your sexuality – and I would never pressure anyone to disclose their sexuality – what I would like to do is know that anyone who runs onto the field and says, “I’m gay. I am proud of it and I am happy. It’s a life choice, and I made it because my life is a better place,” I would like to believe and I do believe they would have the support of their friends in the locker room.”
CLARKE ON WOMEN
“I spoke to a coach – and I’m not sure if this is true – and said, ‘What’s the problem with goalkeepers in the women’s game?’ She said, ‘young girls, when they start the game (six, seven, eight years old), they just don’t like being kicked hard at the ball,’ do they? They would rather kick it than get kicked at them. We have to understand that we have to look at different ways to get women into the goalkeeper position.’