The FA has appealed against a sanction imposed on former Crawley boss John Yems by an independent panel (Kieran Cleeves/PA)
23 January 2023

FA appeals against ban imposed on former Crawley boss John Yems

23 January 2023

The Football Association has appealed against the ban imposed on former Crawley 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”.

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

“We are appealing against the sanction imposed by the independent panel on John Yems,” an FA statement said.

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

Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out described the panel’s sanction as a “slap in the face” given what it saw as the 11 proven charges against Yems.

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.

The union’s senior EDI education executive Jason Lee welcomed the FA’s decision to appeal and added: “(The panel)’s full written reasons, which were published last week, essentially excuse behaviour and language which has resulted in 11 charges of discriminatory behaviour being upheld and a ban being given.

“We believe there was no need for the commission to assess his language and his behaviour in this way beyond deciding whether it was discriminatory. They clearly found that it was but, in going beyond that in their written reasons, they have offered a justification that is wholly unnecessary and, in our view, completely without merit.

“In doing so they have caused anger and upset to many, including those who came forward to the PFA to ensure that John Yems was held to account. Every individual is responsible for the impact of their words and their behaviour. There should be no excuses made.

“As their union, the PFA will be continuing to support the players involved moving forward.”

Yems said in a radio interview last Thursday that if anyone was owed an apology in relation to this case, it was him.

He told talkSPORT: “I wasn’t found to be racist, I never used racist language with intent.

“If anybody needs an apology I think I do, the abuse and everything that I’ve been getting, and when people haven’t even had the courtesy to ask me.

“I don’t think anybody has even looked at the case with any open-mindedness. If you go in there, I think there’s a few apologies that should be coming my way.”

Kick It Out later issued a statement welcoming the FA appeal against the “woefully inadequate” initial sanction.

“It is vital that an in-depth review of the current disciplinary procedure is now launched without delay to understand how the initial conclusion that John Yems is not a ‘conscious racist’ could have been reached,” the charity’s statement continued.

“We are in continued dialogue with the FA and will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that all victims of racist, and discriminatory abuse, receive the justice they deserve.”

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