STEPPING DOWN: Michael Johnson (PA)
EX-DEFENDER MICHAEL Johnson has taken the decision to remove himself from a recently formed FA equality oversight group following comments he made labelling homosexuality as “detestable” in 2012.
The 40-year-old has since disowned the anti-gay remarks he said during an appearance on BBC One, but the furore had engulfed his appointment to the Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board, and following significant embarrassment for those involved, Johnson walked away.
The former Birmingham and Nottingham Forest player, who claimed his views on homosexuality have since changed, said: “I've taken time over the weekend to reflect on the coverage.
“I feel that it's in the best interests of all concerned if I step down from my duties with the inclusion advisory board.”
The ex-Jamaica international, who made over 550 appearances for four different clubs over his career, added: “My position on the inclusion advisory board was voluntary and I've decided to use that time to continue my personal development and education within equality.
“I remain a big advocate of inclusion in football and have actively supported the FA's Coach programme which offers aspiring coaches from black and minority ethnic backgrounds a chance to progress their football qualifications.”
His current views strike a stark contrast to what he said when he appeared in March 2012 on BBC’s The Big Questions.
Speaking about his Christian faith at the time, Johnson said: “Because of my beliefs, because of the Bible that I read, in the Bible it does state that homosexuality is detestable unto the Lord.”
The FA rolled out its equality panel in December last year – it is being chaired by Heather Rabbatts.
However, Johnson’s red-faced departure means there is only one former professional player in the advisory group – ex-Chelsea left-back Graeme Le Saux, who himself was subjected to homophobic taunts from ex-Liverpool player Robbie Fowler during a match in 1999.
Rabbatts said: “It's unfortunate that Michael has decided to step down but he remains 100 per cent behind the aims of the inclusion advisory board and is someone that we will be speaking to on a regular basis as we progress throughout this year and beyond.”