Former UK soccer club official criticized for ‘lazy stereotyping’ of Black players

    Stuart Webber was a sporting director at Norwich City until last year. (Photo: Joe Toth/Shutterstock via CNN Newsource)

    (CNN) — A former official at soccer clubs in England and Wales has been accused by an anti-racism body of stereotyping Black players with “callous language.”

    Stuart Webber, who left his role as sporting director of Norwich City last year, made the comments in reference to five Black players he had worked with – Jonny Rowe, Abu Kamara, Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Raheem Sterling – while speaking with The Pink Un, a regional newspaper in the city of Norwich.

    Webber’s comments came during an interview about his upcoming four-week expedition to climb Mount Everest for charity.

    “We want to help the guys who really need it, not the ones who are maybe privileged,” he said, adding: “Where [the players] come from, it had to work out for them in football because the alternative is potentially jail or something else.”

    The comments have been widely condemned, with sports anti-discrimination body Kick It Out describing them as “racial profiling” and “deeply offensive and concerning” on X, formerly known as Twitter.

    “To read such callous language being used by someone who until recently was a senior executive at the top of the English game paints a very damning picture,” Kick It Out said.

    “Resorting to lazy stereotyping is clearly upsetting for those who have been targeted, but also shows a complete lack of respect for their families, who have played a huge part in the journeys that the players have been on.”

    CNN has attempted to contact Webber for comment.

    Webber and his wife Zoe are co-founders of the Summit Foundation, which works with other charitable organizations to create programs to help young people. According to the foundation’s website, one of its aims is to help break the poverty cycle through education.

    “We have to give the young people in this area something to strive for, to inspire them and, if we can, give them financial support,” he told The Pink Un. “Post-Everest, we’ll continue the charity work.”

    In a statement on X, Kamara – a striker who plays for League One team Portsmouth on loan from Norwich City – said that he and his family are “deeply saddened and shocked” by Webber’s remarks.

    He added: “I want to say to all the black and ethnic minority children, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to avoid living a life of crime and it is important that younger audiences are not left with this false narrative.

    “I am proud of where I come from and acknowledge the sacrifices my family have made in order for me to have a career in football. These remarks are a sign that there is still a long way to go to be treated equally.”

    Also writing on X, Aarons’ mother, Amber, said that there was “not a chance any of those boys … would have been in jail,” while Lewis’ mother, Catrina, said that Webber’s remarks were “very unprofessional.”

    In a statement on Monday, Norwich said that Webber’s comments “do not in any way reflect the wider views of the football club,” adding: “Following publication of the interview, club representatives have focused on speaking directly with Abu Kamara and Jonathan Rowe to understand their concerns and offer support.

    “The club are also in the process of reaching out to the other named players, whilst also engaging in dialogue with Kick It Out.

    “Norwich City is a home for everyone. We remain committed in our work across equality, diversity and inclusion to create an environment where all can feel welcome and valued.”

    Prior to working at Norwich City – where his wife Zoe is an executive director – Webber held roles at Huddersfield Town, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Queens Park Rangers, Liverpool and Wrexham.

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