Tyrone Mings admitted English football “still has a long way to go” after another highly embarrassing day for the national game.
Greg Clarke, one of the most powerful men in football, was forced to resign after making a series of deeply offensive remarks which begs the question whether we really are stuck in a time warp.
Incredibly, the story and developing storm unfolded around Mings and the Aston Villa defender acted with great dignity and class to put an archaic figure like Clarke to shame.
Mings started the England press conference live from St George’s Park facing the TV cameras with questions about whether Clarke should resign and his impending departure.
By the end of it, Clarke’s departure had been confirmed and the FA’s announcement was put to him as the final question in front of the written media.
Yet through it all, Mings spoke with maturity and authority as he offered valuable insight into where the game’s leaders should go from here.
Just two weeks ago, Mings spoke passionately about the FA’s new diversity code – and yet here he was taking questions about the man at the top of it and his outdated remarks about “coloured footballers” along with other racist, sexist, homophobic and deeply offensive remarks.
Mings said: “That phrase may have been acceptable once upon a time but with what is going on the world highlights even more than I can, more than what the code can or players or staff, that we still have a long way to go.
“There is no shame in that. Evidently we have a long way to go in our association but in wider society as well.
“I feel with all the work we’re doing this year and everything that has happened this year highlighting the issues we have in the world, we are in a position where education is key.
“I know I’ve said it before and people say 'education, education, education' but what does that mean or look like? Education is not just the generations coming through, we don’t just have to educate our kids on the society of today or what you can and can’t say.
“But also people in Greg's position, who have lived in different cultures and different times to what we are living in at the moment.
“Unfortunately that was the case because we are living in a society with such great work and trying to drive things forward and highlight these sort of topics. I don't think it has set us back. I don't think that one bit.
“But it has shone a light on what we are saying. We still have a long way to go. We still have to educate each other, We still have to stay on top of it.
“And we still have to be aware ourselves and take responsibility ourselves for what we say and ultimately the decisions we make. I would not sit here and defend it but at the same time there is an element of understanding.
“When I say understanding, educating the generations coming through is one thing but also understanding that we are living in one world and people who came before us are living in another one so I don't think anyone would argue that.
“It is about moving with the times and understanding the times we are living with.”
In great credit to the FA, they could have easily ducked the issue and it was originally going to be Bukayo Saka facing the questions but Mings is more experienced, more outspoken and he stepped in and tackled the impending storm.
It was a highly embarrassing turn of events and yet the FA fronted up, Mings spoke out and, by the end, the news of Clarke’s departure was confirmed.
“I'm sure that between him and other senior authorities at the FA and other governing bodies there will be a lot that comes out of that in the next few days and I'd like my comments probably not to be caught up in that as well,” said Mings.
However, Mings deserves to emerge with credit as he has a strong voice and a new power from a generation of footballers who can speak up and make a difference.
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