FA appeals ex-Crawley Town FC manager ban

The Football Association has appealed against the 18-month ban from football imposed on former Crawley Town boss, John Yems.

An independent regulatory panel banned Yems until June 2024 after he admitted one charge and was found guilty of 11 others relating to comments that referenced either ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, religion, belief or gender between 2019 and 2022.

The FA had been pushing for a two-year ban, and said last week it “fundamentally disagreed” with the panel’s findings that this was not a case of “conscious racism”.

Kick It Out said it was “very hard to understand” the panel’s findings, while Tony Burnett, the organisation’s chief executive, described them as “utterly bizarre”.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham revealed on Wednesday his organisation was exploring its legal options and the governing body has now confirmed an appeal.

In a statement, the FA said: “We are appealing against the sanction imposed by the independent panel on John Yems.

“We believe a longer sanction is appropriate. We are unable to comment further until the appeal is complete.”

The investigation into Yems began when a number of players from the Sky Bet League Two club took their grievances to the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Yems was banned from football for 18 months, which is believed to be the longest punishment ever meted out for the use of discriminatory language, after the panel decided his words were “offensive, racist and Islamophobic”.

The panel concluded that Yems:

– Described Muslim members of the squad as “terrorists”

– Deliberately mispronounced the second half of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name to emphasise the N-word

– Used a racial stereotype to a black player of African origin by asking if he liked jerk chicken

– Told Muslim players “your people blow up stuff with vests”

– Said that an Iraqi youth international at the club “would probably blow up the stadium”

– Repeatedly made comments about another player “carrying a bomb in his bag”

– Called one player a “curry muncher” and asked if the player was unhappy that they did not serve “curry pizza”

– Made a remark to one player about “how dark his skin is'” on his return to Crawley after representing Grenada

Four allegations were dismissed, including claims that he segregated Crawley players and based his team selections on race.

The panel agreed with Yems’ solicitors that their client was not a racist and neither did he “ever intend to make racist remarks”, adding in their findings: “We regard this as an extremely serious case.

“We have accepted that Mr Yems is not a conscious racist. If he were, an extremely lengthy, even permanent, suspension would be appropriate.

“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.”

The FA was unhappy that the panel chose, in its judgement, to question whether Yems is a “racist”, when the panel’s job was in fact to assess whether racist language had been used.

The panel consisted of black former footballer Tony Agana, experienced lawyer Robert Englehart KC, and Wolves club secretary Matt Wild.

Sky Sports News spoke to Yems after the original decision, and he remained adamant he is not racist and points to the words of the independent panel which stated he “is not a conscious racist”.

Yems admitted that, at the age of 63, he is lacking education and used outdated language.

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