Clapton FC’s team, led by Andre Thomas, with the Fans For Diversity flag at Proudly East London 2016
Vince McBean has been forced to remove an inaccurate article from his claptonfc.com website that attacked a local annual anti-discrimination football tournament.
The climbdown over the Proudly East London tournament came after the Football Association launched a probe into Mr McBean’s comments and Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley requested Mr McBean withdrawn his name.
Mr McBean had accused organisers of the non-profit, inclusive football event, involving teams such as Queerspace East, Stonewall and Football Beyond Borders, of lying about receiving support from the pioneering equality and inclusion group, Kick It Out.
However, in fact Kick It Out had generously helped to fund the community-driven event for the past three seasons through its Fans For Diversity fund run jointly with the Football Supporters Federation.
The Proudly East London football tournament logo
Included in the original article was a quote from Lord Ouseley, who has since told Clapton FC News this was a result of a misunderstanding and that Fans For Diversity had indeed provided funds for the maximum three-year period allowed.
Lord Ousley told Clapton FC News: “My statement may have been based on a misunderstanding. To avoid further misrepresentations or inferences, I have asked Mr McBean to remove it from his website. He has agreed to do so and to inform me as soon as done.”
Mr McBean’s website was taken offline completely for a week but is now back online. The article in question ‘Kick It Out support claim untrue’ is now a broken link, A tweet summarising the attack, however, remains online at time of publication.
A new article ‘Updated: KickItOut support claim’, featuring a much longer statement, has been uploaded to Mr McBean’s website today but with Lord Ouseley’s quotes thankfully removed.
Lord Ouseley stressed he does not wish to take sides in the long-running and bitter dispute between fans and chief executive Mr McBean. He said: “Kick it Out does not wish to be caught up in this dispute nor to be seen to be supporting one side or another.
“We have used our best endeavours to get the football authorities to try to sort it so that we can support all good work being done through football in the local area.”
In the same article, Mr McBean also insisted Clapton FC had had no connection whatsoever to the tournament, which is avowedly anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and very inclusive.
However, Mr McBean’s management, coaches and players have entered official teams for each of the three years Proudly East London has been held to date.
Mr McBean’s own @claptonfootball Twitter account even posted many updates during the tournaments and praised the event and its organisers, the Clapton Ultras.
Last year, then-assistant manager Andre Thomas led Clapton FC’s team to victory in the men’s tournament for the second year in a row, while the Easton Cowgirls from Bristol won the women’s tournament.
In previous years, then Clapton manager Mike Walther and current first team coach Marc Nurse have led the Clapton team.
When contacted, the Essex Senior League committee chose to back Mr McBean’s original, now-deleted, article, insisting it was not their responsibility.
ESL secretary Michelle Dorling told Clapton FC News: “As this is an outside competition it does not come under our jurisdiction.”
This is despite the ESL’s own rule 8.14 which states they are responsible for overseeing what is posted on clubs’ websites: “Nothing shall be included on the website… which brings the [ESL] into disrepute.”
An FA spokesman said they had asked the London FA to investigate after their attention was drawn to Mr McBean’s statement and the subsequent handling by the ESL.
Organisers of Proudly East London did not want to comment when approached by Clapton FC News, except to stress they were hugely grateful for Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation for their amazing support since the tournament was launched.
Today they tweeted for the first time in 10 months to hint the tournament will once again take place this summer despite Mr McBean’s attack with details published soon.
We contacted Mr McBean several times but he declined to comment – in line with his long-standing policy not to speak to us.
In the meantime, follow Proudly East London on Twitter, and check out the amazing work by Kick It Out, Fans For Diversity and Football Supporters’ Federation.
Here’s a promo video made by Copa 90 for the tournament, whose slogan is: “Everything racists hate about east London – its diversity, multiculturalism and greater tolerance… the reasons why we are proud to call it home.”