Heather Rabbatts will chair Football Association equality panel

Heather Rabbatts

Football Association board member Heather Rabbatts will chair a group aimed at widening inclusion in football.

The Inclusion Advisory Board (IAB) holds its first meeting in January and will oversee equality matters.

Rabbatts, 58, recently criticised the FA's commission to improve the England team for its lack of diversity.

The 10-person group also includes former Chelsea player Graeme Le Saux and ex-Derby defender Michael Johnson.

The IAB hopes to widen diversity in the sport and clarify anti-discrimination regulations and sanctions.

"This group is vital for meeting the future aims and ambitions of a modern FA," said Rabbatts, who is the only woman on the FA board.

"We believe that we have a breadth of representation, skills and experiences that will give direction and guidance for the game."

Joining Rabbatts, Le Saux and Johnson in the group are:

  • Shelley Alexander - co-founder of Women in Football
  • Joyce Cook OBE - founding managing director of the Centre for access to Football in Europe
  • Rishi Jain - previously worked for Liverpool FC as Equality and Inclusion Advisor
  • Edward Lord OBE - chair of the London FA Inclusion Advisory Group
  • Rimla Akhtar - has chaired the Muslim Women Sports Foundation since 2005
  • Peter Clayton - FA Council member and chief executive of Middlesex FA
  • Thura Win - FA Council member

Rabbatts, who fulfils a number of roles outside of the FA, said the make-up of FA chairman Greg Dyke's commission into the national team was "singularly damaged" for its lack of female and black members.

"The FA should be leading by example, not reinforcing entrenched attitudes," she wrote in a letter to Dyke.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was subsequently added to the panel.

The IAB group she will oversee will monitor the delivery of Football's Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan between 2013 and 2017.

In October, the head of Fifa's anti-racism task force, Jeffrey Webb, said he was left "disheartened" after meeting "demoralised" black and ethnic minority players in England.

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