FA criticises finding that sacked Crawley manager John Yems was 'not a conscious racist'

The Football Association has criticised its own independent regulatory panel's verdict that a manager was "not a conscious racist" despite being found to have referred to his players' ethnic origin and colour.

John Yems was banned from football until June 2024 after being found guilty of 11 offences and admitting to one charge for the offensive comments between 2019 and 2022 while managing League Two club Crawley Town.

The commission found four others to be unproven against Yems, who the FA wanted to be banned for two years.

The FA told Sky News: "We had requested a longer ban. Based on the evidence presented to the commission, we don't agree that the panel should have found that this was not a case of conscious racism."

The FA has not said if it would appeal against the findings of the panel, which was led by Robert Englehart KC and featured Wolverhampton club secretary Matt Wild and former Sheffield United player Tony Agana.

Their verdict said: "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."

Football's anti-racism body, Kick It Out, said the findings set a "dangerous precedent" by allowing a perpetrator to claim harmful language was "banter".

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It said: "The behaviour outlined in the report must be called out for exactly what it is: racism and Islamophobia.

"To speak plainly, a 15-month ban - given the severity of the 11 proven charges - is a slap in the face to the victims of the discriminatory abuse detailed in this report and anyone who has been subject to racism or Islamophobia."

Yems was sacked by Crawley in May 2022 after being suspended by the club.