Wigan’s Whelan facing FA investigation

Club owner written to regarding his remarks about Jewish and Chinese people

The English FA has launched an investigation into comments Dave Whelan made about Jewish and Chinese people, following his appointment of Malky Mackay as Wigan Athletic manager.

Seeking to explain why remarks Mackay made about the Jewish football agent Phil Smith were not in his view offensive, Whelan said that "Jewish people chase money more than everybody else" and that they are "shrewd people".

The Wigan owner also said it was “nothing” to call a “Chinaman” a “Chink” and that any Englishman who said he had not done so was lying. The remarks were strongly condemned by Jewish and Chinese community organisations.

FA investigation

The English FA responded yesterday, saying it had already started an investigation and that the FA’s governance division, which handles all disciplinary proceedings, had written to Whelan. He has three working days to respond.


“The FA is very concerned to read about the comments that have been attributed to Dave Whelan,” football’s governing body said in a statement. “We take all forms of discrimination seriously. As with all such cases, this will be dealt with as a priority.”

Whelan and Wigan have been engulfed in public scrutiny after the owner's decision to employ Mackay while an FA investigation is still ongoing into Mackay's text and email messages exchanged at Cardiff with that club's then head of recruitment, Iain Moody.

Derogatory messages

They included derogatory messages about Smith as a Jew, the South Korean international Kim Bo-kyung, reportedly four other offensive texts, and a reference to

Vincent Tan

, Cardiff City’s Malaysian owner, as “the Chink”.

Tan reacted furiously to Whelan’s comments and his appointment of Mackay, whom Tan sacked in December, telling the BBC: “This is a racist chairman hiring a racist manager.” Mackay and Moody’s emails and texts were discovered after an exhaustive search conducted on a court order obtained by Tan’s lawyers. In August the FA launched an investigation into Mackay and Moody for possible racism and antisemitism.

That investigation continues, the FA has emphasised in a statement, countering Whelan’s assertion that he had been advised by two senior figures at the FA that it is unlikely to produce anything, principally because the communications between Moody and Mackay will be considered private. The FA has said that it is examining whether the emails and texts “indicate a culture in which other acts of a discriminatory nature may have taken place”.

Privacy defence

If the FA’s governance division finds such acts have taken place, that would take the investigation over the hurdle of the privacy defence.

Tan said Whelan’s remarks “insulted the dignity” of Jewish and Chinese people.

Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, has described Whelan's remarks about Jews as "old fashioned anti-Semitic tropes". Guardian Service