LONDON, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand was added to a commission set up by the English Football Association to improve the national team on Sunday after it was criticised by an FA board member for lacking diversity.
The FA said that England manager Roy Hodgson had also been added to the group, whose task is to investigate how to increase the number of England-qualified players appearing for the country’s top clubs.
Heather Rabbatts, an FA board member, accused the governing body’s commission on Saturday of not reflecting “the make-up of the diverse society that we live in”.
FA chairman Greg Dyke said that discussions with Ferdinand, who quit international football in May after wining 81 England caps, had been ongoing and they had needed to be certain he had the time to participate.
“We have been speaking to Rio and Manchester United for some time about him joining the group - before we named the other members of the Commission,” Dyke said in a statement.
”However, as he is a current Manchester United player we needed to be sure that Rio had the necessary time to fully participate on the Commission and not impact on his day job. It has been agreed he does.
“As a current player with forthright views and opinions on the game, we can look forward to Rio providing significant insight and experience.”
In response, Rabbatts said the FA still had work to do.
“While I can appreciate the appointment of Roy and Rio and of course welcome a degree of diversity, there are still questions which remain about the work and role of the FA commission,” she said in a statement.
”The issue of real diversity, and the insight that can bring, is still not fully resolved nor are the exact terms of reference of the commission and the continued absence of the Premier League from its membership.
”Greg Dyke was right to say that this project was the FA’s flagship for the future well-being of our national team and it is essential that it is overseen by a body that is truly credible and has the trust and confidence of the whole of football.
“This is still not the case - today’s announcement is a start but there is a lot more work to do.”
Hodgson was also added to the commission after guiding England to the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
Dyke said they had held off naming Hodgson previously so as not to distract him ahead of England’s final qualifying matches.
“It is important Roy can offer his views as the current manager of the national team and share the knowledge he has gained when working for many years in a number of countries,” Dyke added.
“I wanted the international fixtures to be completed before announcing this to avoid any distractions for Roy at such an important time.”
Other people already named on the commission are former England manager Glenn Hoddle, ex-England defender Danny Mills and League Managers’ Association chairman Howard Wilkinson.
Professional Footballers’ Association chairman Ritchie Humphreys, Football League chairman Greg Clarke and Crewe director of football Dario Gradi will also be involved. (Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ed Osmond)