John Yems: FA disagrees that ex-Crawley Town boss’ racist slurs ‘not conscious racism’

John Yems
John Yems left Crawley in May, two days after the FA said it was investigating the allegations against him

The Football Association says it “fundamentally disagrees” with the view of an independent panel that comments made by ex-Crawley Town boss John Yems were “not a case of conscious racism”.

Yems, 63, is banned from football until June 2024 after being found guilty of racist abuse towards his players.

But in a report published on Tuesday the disciplinary commission “accepted Mr Yems is not a conscious racist”.

The FA says it is now “considering its legal options”.

“Based on the evidence presented to the commission, we fundamentally disagree with independent panel’s finding that this was not a case of conscious racism,” it said.

The FA also says it had requested a longer suspension than the 18 months given to Yems.

It comes after anti-racism charity Kick It Out said it would be in touch with the FA to “understand how the panel came to their conclusion”.

“Given the seriousness of the incidents detailed, it is very hard to understand how the FA independent panel have concluded that ‘Mr Yems is not a conscious racist’,” Kick It Out said.

“We do not share that viewpoint.”

The FA report stated how, in his defence, Yems “categorically denied that he was in any way racist”.

The independent regulatory commission was made up of barrister Robert Englehart KC, former Sheffield United striker Tony Agana and Matt Wild.

‘A dangerous precedent’

Yems admitted one charge and was found guilty of 11 others of racist abuse towards his players. Four further charges against him were found to be unproven by the tribunal, while another relating to racial segregation was dropped.

The findings included that Yems used a racial slur to describe some of the club’s black players, deliberately mis-pronounced a name to make it sound like a racially offensive term, and joked that a Muslim player was a terrorist.

The FA said the case was “extremely serious” and “involved racist bullying over a significant period of time”.

In the written reasons for Yems’ ban the report said: “Nevertheless, Mr Yems’ ‘banter’ undoubtedly came across to the victims and others as offensive, racist and Islamophobic.

“Mr Yems simply paid no regard to the distress which his misplaced jocularity was causing.”

As well as saying the length of Yems’ football ban was “a slap in the face to the victims”, Kick It Out criticised the panel’s interpretation of his abuse.

“Furthermore, to reduce his prolonged string of offensive, Islamophobic, and racist remarks to simply being ‘misplaced jocularity’ shows a total lack of understanding about the damage that this language can cause or the power dynamics that exist in the game.

“This decision also sets a dangerous precedent by allowing perpetrators to hide behind a ‘banter’ defence when intentionally using harmful and discriminatory language.”

Yems had been in charge at Crawley since December 2019, was suspended by the club on 23 April, 2022 and parted company with the League Two side 13 days later, two days after the FA announced it was investigating the allegations against him.