The Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has apologised after he referred to non-white people as “coloured”.
Speaking to the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, he also said the FA’s IT department was staffed by more “south Asians” than “Afro-Caribbeans” because they had “different career interests”.
And he suggested it was a “choice” to be LGBT.
Clarke told MPs on Tuesday he wanted to see racist, homophobic and misogynistic abuse in football stadiums criminalised.
But he had to say sorry after being pulled up on his use of language.
Questioned over why no professional male footballer in England had come out as gay, Clarke said LGBT athletes from other sports had told him it was because people had seen what “happens to high profile female footballers, high profile coloured footballers, and the abuse they take on social media”.
“People can see if you’re black and if they don’t like black people because they are a filthy racist they will abuse you anonymously online.
“They can see if you are a woman. Some of the high profile black female footballers take terrible abuse.”
Labour MP Kevin Brennan interrupted Clarke to ask him to “withdraw” the use of the word “coloured”.
“Diversity is not really the issue. Football is diverse. It’s inclusion that’s the issue,” Brennan said. “Isn’t that exactly the sort of language that means inclusion is not a reality, even though football is very diverse?”
Clarke said: “If I said it I deeply apologise for it.
“I am a product of having worked overseas. I worked in the USA for many years where I was required to use the term ‘people of colour’ because that was product of their diversity legislation and positive discrimination format, sometimes I trip over my words.”
Tory MP Damian Collins, who used to chair the committee, said Clarke’s comments would cause offence because “although unintended” they suggested a “casual disregard for concerns about inclusion and confronting prejudice in football”.
“He was right to apologise but we should surely expect higher standards,” Collins said.
Clarke also said he did not want to view the BAME community as an “amorphous mass”.
“If you look at top level football, the Afro-Caribbean community is over represented versus the south Asian community,” he said.
“If you go to the IT department at the FA there are lot more south Asians than Afro-Caribbeans, they have different career interests.”
Clarke said while he had not “talked directly to gay footballers” because he had “not found any who will meet me”, other “top level professional footballers” had said there was “not a problem in the changing rooms” with homophobia.
The FA chairman added: “A lot of the guys know who is gay and who isn’t, and it’s not an issue, it’s their choice, it’s not a big deal.”
Speaking about racism, homophobia and misogyny in football, he said: “I would like to see that sort of behaviour criminalised so they get a criminal record as well not just banned form a football ground.”