Disgraced former Crawley Town boss John Yems has claimed he had been harshly treated after he was banned from football after using racist language against his own players – and said he was owed an apology.
The 63-year-old was given an 18-month ban earlier this month following Sportsmail’s revelations that a group of Crawley players had complained about their manager’s language last April, with the League Two club dismissing him the following month and the FA finding him guilty of 12 charges of misconduct.
In their written reasons for the verdict published on Tuesday the FA concluded that Yems is not a ‘conscious racist,’ but the allegations made against him which were upheld by their independent panel remain shocking.
Disgraced former Crawley Town boss John Yems has claimed he deserves an apology
Sportsmail revealed last April that Yems had been accused of calling Crawley’s black players ‘Zulu warriors’ and describing Muslim members of the squad as ‘terrorists,’ both of which were found to have occurred.
Amongst other extraordinary findings the FA panel concluded that Yems also:
- Deliberately mispronounced the second half of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name to emphasise the word, ‘n****r’
- Told Muslim players ‘your people blow up stuff with vests’.
- Said that an Iraqi youth international at the club ‘would probably blow up the stadium.’
- Made repeated comments about another player ‘carrying a bomb in his bag.’
- Called one player a ‘curry muncher.’
- Repeatedly asked the same player if he was unhappy that the club did not serve ‘curry pizza.’
- Made a remark to one player about ‘how dark his skin is’ on his return to Crawley after representing Grenada.
- Frequently asked several African players whether they ate jerk chicken despite being told on more than one occasion that it is a Jamaican delicacy.
And Yems appeared on talkSPORT on Thursday morning defending his position and claimed he had done nothing wrong.
When questioned on what had gone on and his comments by presenter Jim White, Yems said: ‘It’s a very strange part of my life the last nine months because the charges I think there was only 11 at the end. I didn’t just admit one there was four things I said I did.
‘It’s not a court of law, I haven’t broken any laws – rather rules. It’s like getting thrown out of one pub and another one letting you in there – as simple as that. You’ve made mistakes under FA rules and you have to take the punishment or you appeal.
‘At the end of it the panel found me in its wisdom not racist, (said I) didn’t use racist language with intent and I was honest all the way through the trial.
Yems was given an 18-month ban earlier this month following Sportsmail’s revelations that a group of Crawley players had complained about their manager’s language last April
The extent of former Crawley boss Yems’ ‘discriminatory language’ and ‘racist banter’ towards his players was published by the FA this week – with shocking allegations against him upheld
‘When you see the charges the way they’re portrayed it looks like I’m one of the great train robbers or something. It’s really annoying and frustrating people don’t know the story behind the whole trial not just the end product of it because it all started off many moons ago.
‘I was door stepped for two days, my wife was followed to work, people were phoning me up going to “do this and that” to me.
‘All over a charge that I segregated changing rooms and pitches, that I didn’t pick black players because they were black and I’m thinking what’s going on.
‘One minute I’m at Mansfield and all the players in the squad are going what’s happening here – segregated? And guess what they dropped all those charges about me not picking black players, they dropped the charges about segregating changing rooms and that never gets a mention.’
Yems was also questioned on whether he was a racist after his ban, but the former Crawley boss denied this.
He said: ‘I don’t know where this conscious racist is coming from and I don’t really know the meaning of that I just don’t know what it is all about.
‘I’m dragged through the worst experience of my life – in my total time of football I’ve worked with black players, white players, every race, most countries.
Yems revealed how he has been ‘dragged through the worst experience of my life’
‘Some of the things I’ve been accused of saying, to me, okay some have said I used old fashioned language. I totally agree, if that’s the case then that’s the case.
‘It so easy to throw accusations and if you throw enough mud then some of it will stick. I find that very offensive for people to say I’m racist.’
When questioned by White on if he accepts he’s done something wrong, Yems added: ‘No, the thing I’ve done wrong has been highlighted to me and has shown me there are certain things you can’t say or do.
‘So be it. If that’s the rules now and that’s what we are supposed to do then let people know.
‘To me, it’s the intent with what people say. I haven’t purposefully gone out there, individually, to say to someone XYZ, purely on the colour of their skin.’
Yems was also asked on some the accusations thrown his way. When questioned particularly if he had called black players ‘Zulu warriors’, he said: ‘I didn’t say that. You’re hearing one side of the story – no witnesses for anything.
‘No I didn’t say that. Four boys were released from me at end of season that weren’t being offered contracts – make your own opinions and make your mind up on what goes on in football.
On talkSPORT, Yems had said that he had done nothing wrong and claimed he wasn’t a racist
‘I was never sat down, asked about any until of it went to the papers. There was no chance to say, do anything or speak to anyone.
‘There’s a bigger story to look at if people take the time to look at it. If I’ve said anything offensive to anybody it’s not in my intent or never intended to be racist towards anybody.’
At the end of the interview, Yems then claimed that if anyone was owed an apology for what had gone on, it was him.
He explained: ‘People are out there are going to say what they are going to say, people are going to think what they are going to think.
‘I would say to you, have a look that I wasn’t found to be racist, never used racist language with intent, if anybody needs an apology then I think I do.
‘The amount of abuse I’ve been getting when people haven’t even had the courtesy to ask me.
‘I don’t think anybody has looked at the case with any open mindedness. I think if you are going there then there should be a few apologies coming my way.’
The 63-year-old also claimed people haven’t looked at his situation with an open mind
The 63-year-old has been widely slammed for his appearance on the radio station, with several current and former players in astonishment at what he had said.
Former footballer Aaron McLean said: ‘John Yems is one deluded individual. Listening to his interview with @JimWhite on @talkSPORT he fails to accept that his comments are totally unacceptable. He fails to apologise to those affected by his comments. He goes into victim mode & feels he is owed an apology.’
Current player Leon Legge said: ‘John Yems asking for an apology when really it should be aimed at the lads he’s abused.’
Ex-footballer Marvin Sordell added: ‘So John Yems went on air and said that he deserves an apology, and that it feels terrible to be called racist? Did I hear that correctly? If so, interesting.’
Fans were also quick to condemn Yems with one saying: ‘I can’t believe what I’m listening to. John Yems has just said on @talkSPORT that the only person who deserves an apology is him. That really just happened. Wow.’
Another fumed: ‘This John Yems interview on @talkSPORT is absolutely bonkers! I can’t believe he’s been given the airtime, and secondly he believes what he’s said is void of punishment!’
Yems was slammed after his appearance on talkSPORT with fans and players in astonishment
The FA dismissed four other allegations in the investigation against Yems, including other supposed jokes about terrorism and a claim that he said black people do not go fishing because they would stab the fish.
Whilst making clear that they do not regard Yems as a racist the FA panel concluded that his behaviour came across as ‘offensive, racist and Islamophobic’ to many of Crawley’s players, which led them to give him the longest ban that has ever been imposed for discriminatory language.
‘We regard this as an extremely serious case,’ the FA report said. ‘We have accepted that Mr Yems is not a conscious racist. If he were, an extremely lengthy, even permanent, suspension would be appropriate.
‘Nevertheless, Mr Yems’ ‘banter’ undoubtedly came across to the victims and others as offensive, racist and Islamophobic. Mr Yems simply paid no regard to the distress which his misplaced jocularity was causing.’
The FA describe the players who gave evidence against Yems as credible witness, and condemn him for not considering how his language made them feel.
‘We are confident that Mr Yems as a person is not a racist,’ the report said. ‘Nor did Mr Yems ever intend to make racist remarks.
‘Nevertheless, it is how what he said from time to time would be perceived by those to whom it was addressed which is what matters rather than his subjective intent.
‘There was a considerable weight of evidence to the effect that Mr Yems was in the habit of, in his perception, cracking jokes which were perceived as racist by those who were the butt of the jokes.
‘Probably, Mr Yems gave no thought at all to the effect of his language on those at whom the ‘jokes’ were aimed. Nor did he give any thought at all to the likely reaction of others to the language he used.
Despite describing Yems as ‘not a conscious racist’ the independent panel did say his ‘banter undoubtedly came across to the victims and others as offensive, racist and Islamophobic’
‘In our view, Mr Yems was not deliberately lying in his evidence about not having said many of the things alleged. Indeed, he may well think that he did not in fact say what is alleged.
‘In our view, he simply gave no thought at all to the effect of what he was saying from time to time. For him, there was nothing unusual or out of the ordinary in his language so as to make it memorable.
‘Nevertheless, for those who were the butt of the comments the position was entirely different. We have already noted our finding that the players who gave evidence before us were impressive witnesses. We have no doubt that they were intending to tell us the truth, and we reject categorically the suggestion that any of them was lying.’
The FA have since publicly opposed the findings of their own independent panel that ruled Yems is not a ‘conscious racist’.
English football’s governing body have been roundly criticised after the publication of a report into Yems’ racial taunts towards players during his time in charge of Crawley.
The FA disagree with the resolution of their own independent panel and are seeking legal advice ahead of a possible appeal. The organisation also believe the 18-month ban meted out to Yems was too lenient.
The FA have since publicly opposed the findings of the independent panel regarding Yems
An FA statement said on Wednesday: ‘The FA brought 16 charges of discrimination against John Yems. The independent regulatory commission decided on an 18-month ban for the 12 charges which it upheld or was admitted. 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.’ Ian Wright and Anton Ferdinand were among the high profile figures to condemn the FA’s written reasons on social media. Anti-discriminatory body Kick it Out have also criticised the independent commission’s report on Yems.
‘The discriminatory language outlined in the FA independent panel report is simply shocking,’ the Kick It Out statement read.
‘Given the seriousness of the incidents detailed, it is very hard to understand how the FA independent panel have concluded that ‘Mr Yems is not a conscious racist’.
‘We do not share that viewpoint. 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.’