Sunday 8 December 2019

Anti-racism group questions Whelan as 'fit and proper owner' following controversial remarks

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan

Declan Whooley

Kick It Out has questioned Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan's controversial comments today, suggesting he may not be fit for his job in football.

It comes on the back of remarks made to the Guardian, and The Football Association’s statement issued earlier today about the Malky Mackay and Iain Moody case.

Whelan has been accused of anti-Semitism as the controversy over the club's appointment of  Mackay as manager deepens.

Mackay, named new Latics boss on Wednesday, is the subject of an ongoing Football Association investigation into racist, sexist and homophobic text messages sent during his time as Cardiff manager.

Whelan has now claimed there was little offensive in some of Mackay's texts, most notably those referring to Jews and Chinese people.

The development comes soon after one of Wigan's shirt sponsors, kitchen firm Premier Range, announced it was severing its ties with the club following Mackay's appointment.

Tonight the group released the following statement:

“The Football Association has outlined in a statement that ‘no assurances have been given on the outcome of the case’ yet Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan continues to suggest elsewhere that two ‘influential’ people have informed him that ‘nothing will come’ from the investigation."

“This comes shortly after the Guardian published comments from Whelan that ‘Jewish people chase money more than everybody else’ and that the word ‘chink’ is not offensive. He has brought into question whether he is a fit and proper person who should be running a professional football club.

“The remarks act as another example of the culture which continues to exist within football, and further proves that some in positions of power seem comfortable sharing those views either privately or publicly. These comments must not go unchallenged and have to be investigated by The FA.

“The FA also needs to get to the bottom of Whelan’s insistence that he has been in contact with ‘influential’ figures within its own organisation about the Malky Mackay and Iain Moody case. They must ascertain whether his claims have any substance by conducting an investigation into this too.”

Whelan was not condemnatory when asked about some of the specific texts, including one in which referred to Jewish football agent Phil Smith with the words, "Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers."

Whelan reportedly said of that: "I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don't think that's offensive at all."

In response, Simon Johnson, a former FA and Premier League executive, who is now the chief executive at the Jewish Leadership Council, told the newspaper: "Unfortunately Mr Mackay and now Mr Whelan have referred to some of the worst old-fashioned tropes which have been used in the past as the basis of anti-Semitism and stereotyping of Jewish people.

"Mackay used offensive language to insult a fellow participant in football using a tawdry racial stereotype."

In another text message, Mackay referred to Cardiff's Malaysian owner Vincent Tan as a "c***k."

Asked about that, Whelan said: "If any Englishman said he has never called a Chinaman a c***k he is lying. There is nothing bad about doing that. It is like calling the British Brits, or the Irish paddies."

Mackay, 42, was sacked by Cardiff last December after falling out with Tan.

The offensive texts that he sent, all to Cardiff's former head of recruitment Iain Moody, came to light in August after an investigation by the Welsh club. The furore caused by them cost Mackay the chance of being appointed Crystal Palace manage

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