David Elleray, currently under investigation for his conduct, to step down from FA role

David Elleray was made an MBE for service to football in 2014

Credit: AFP

David Elleray, one of the most powerful officials in football, is to step down from his Football Association role at the end of the season. Elleray is currently the subject of an investigation commissioned by the governing body into his conduct.

Elleray is the current chair of the FA referees’ committee, in addition to his position as technical director for football’s rule-makers, the International Football Association Board, where he works closely with Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of the Fifa referees committee, on the evolution of the game’s laws.

Last week it emerged that the FA had commissioned an independent investigation into allegations made regarding Elleray. The nature of the allegations have not been made public and the FA has made no comment on the investigation, which is due to begin in the new year.

Elleray, 67, was previously reprimanded by the FA in 2014 and asked to undertake an equality and diversity training course after he was alleged to have been heard to ask Robert McCarthy, a black referee coaching manager: “Have you been down a coal mine?” during a meeting at St George’s Park.

McCarthy did not complain but the FA investigated after becoming aware of an allegation and has said that Elleray “apologised unreservedly for his actions”.

The then chairman of Kick It Out, Lord Ouseley, accused the FA of “brushing off” the incident with a “slap on the wrists”. It is understood that this latest investigation is unconnected to the 2014 breach of the FA Council Code of Conduct.

In early 2020, Elleray was accused of fat-shaming after reportedly telling a group of semi-professional referees that there are “too many beards, tattoos and beer bellies in this room”.

Ref Support chief executive Martin Cassidy said he had been approached by officials upset by the comment, adding: “We are worried, as a charity, that pressure that the FA put on some referees might encourage eating disorders because some of them get really obsessed by their fitness.”

Elleray did not deny making the comment but said: “It is quite possible/likely that in the past when talking to young aspiring referees, I have commented on the importance of appearance as there is a general expectation that referees look smart, athletic etc.”

Elleray refereed more than 1,500 matches before his retirement from officiating in 2003. He later became a referee assessor for Fifa and Uefa, and was made an MBE for service to football in 2014.

The FA declined to comment on Elleray’s departure, while Telegraph Sport has approached Elleray for comment.

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