The Football Association (FA) is preparing to appoint the governing body’s first ever Chairwoman in its 157-year-long history, according to The Times.
The organisation has reportedly identified Debbie Hewitt as a leading candidate for the vacancy, with the 57-year-old having previously served as the Chief Executive of British automotive services company RAC.
Last November, former Chairman Greg Clarke was forced to step down from the role after making remarks before a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee. Clarke used the archaic term ‘coloured’ to describe black players and later insinuated that footballers coming out as gay would be ‘a life choice’.
Moving forward, the organisation is keen to break tradition by appointing a female, having pulled together a ‘diverse seven-person panel’ to search for Clarke’s successor, headed up by FA Non-Executive Director Kate Tinsley and also featuring Derby County coach Liam Rosenior.
According to the report, the FA received more than 100 applications for the position which has now been whittled down to six candidates, with the shortlist including several women.
Heather Rabbatts, the first black and female FA board member, has reportedly been under consideration for the role, whilst the former Chief Executive of Virgin Money, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, has also been linked with the sought-after position.
In addition, the Chair of the FA’s inclusion advisory board, Paul Elliot, had been rumoured to have applied whilst Sport England board member Chris Grant confirmed his interest in the role.
Businesswoman and candidate Hewitt received an MBE in the 2011 New Year’s Honours list for services to the business and public sector. However, the FA asserted that it is yet to finalise its decision.
Nonetheless, the successful candidate will have the task of overseeing the UK and Ireland’s joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup, which received Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s backing last month.