Former Crawley manager John Yems has been banned from football for 18 months for multiple breaches of the FA’s rule relating to discriminatory comments; Yems admitted one charge and an independent panel found 11 others to be proven – yet concluded he is not a “conscious racist”
Tony Burnett, the chief executive of Kick It Out, says it is “utterly bizarre” that an FA-appointed independent panel accepted that John Yems was not a “conscious racist” despite revealing a string of offensive racial remarks made by the former Crawley Town manager.
The FA pushed for a two-year suspension, but the panel agreed with Yems’ solicitors that he was not a racist and did not “intend to make racist remarks”.
The 63 year old was charged after he made 16 alleged comments which “included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief and/or gender” to Crawley players between 2019 and 2022.
Yems admitted to 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.
An independent regulatory commission found four others to be unproven as Yems was earlier this month banned from all football-related activity up to and including June 1, 2024.
But the FA panel did, however conclude 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 server “curry pizza”
Made a remark to one player about “how dark his skin is'” on his return to Crawley after representing Grenada
A sanctions document indicates the FA pushed for a two-year suspension but the independent panel agreed with Yems’ solicitors that their client was not a racist and neither did he “ever intend to make racist remarks”.
The FA panel said in its 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.”
Yems, who took charge of Crawley in December 2019, was suspended for 12 days prior to his dismissal in May.