Former Crawley Town Football Club manager John Yems has been suspended from all football and related activities for three years for breaching anti-discrimination rules following an appeal by the English Football Association, the FA said.
Crawley suspended Yems in April 2022 over accusations that he used discriminatory language and behaviour towards his players between 2019 and 2022. He left the club nearly two weeks later, days after the FA announced its investigation.
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Yems was found to have made 16 breaches of FA Rule E3.2, which relates to comments on race and ethnicity.
The 63-year-old admitted to one charge and was initially banned by an independent regulatory commission for 17 months, until June 1, 2024.
But the FA appealed the decision, saying the sanction was insufficient and that it disagreed with the commission’s finding that this was not a case of conscious racism.
“We welcome the verdict from the independent Appeal Board to suspend John Yems from all football-related activity until January 2026,” the FA said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This is the longest ever ban issued to a participant in English football for discrimination, and follows our decision to appeal and challenge the verdict of the independent Regulatory Commission after the first hearing in January.
“We strongly disagreed with their original sanction, as well as some of the elements of their judgement, which we fundamentally believed were not appropriate for the severity of the offences committed by John Yems.”
After a successful FA appeal, an independent Appeal Board has suspended John Yems from all football and football-related activity up to and including 5 January 2026.
— The FA (@FA) April 19, 2023
British anti-discriminatory body Kick It Out welcomed the appeal board’s decision to extend the ban, calling it a “landmark moment”.
“We … wholeheartedly concur with their conclusion that the initial judgement that he was ‘not a conscious racist’ is ‘untenable’,” said Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett.
“Strong sanctions are crucial in sending out a message that racist, Islamophobic and discriminatory language will not be tolerated in football.
“We hope that the record-length ban issued to Yems today will be a landmark moment that enables more victims of discrimination to come forward and provides a powerful statement that abusing the power dynamic between coach and player will have severe consequences.”