PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle has criticised the organisation for booking stand-up comedia Reginald D Hunter to perform at Sunday’s awards dinner in London.
Hunter’s act did not go down well with those in attendance as the black comedian made several references to the word ‘n*****’.
The Northampton defender has been a relentless campaigner in the fight to eradicate racism from football and though he stopped short of criticising Hunter’s act he felt it was an error to hire the American.
“I thought we made a huge mistake,” Carlisle said.
“I thought with everything that we have gone through over the last few years, using a comedian of his type was a bad error in judgement.
“I was embarrassed sat up there throughout and I want to apologise unreservedly to the footballing community that was present.”
The issue of racism in football has been brought back into sharp focus over the past two years with Chelsea’s John Terry and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez both serving bans for racial abuse.
Carlisle was saddened that Hunter’s performance took the attention away from the organisation’s 40th anniversary and the honouring of female footballers for the first time.
“What galls me is that it was a momentous occasion,” he added.
“It was our 40th award, Kim Little won the first women’s award, a place in history.
“It was the first time that the men’s and women’s game had unified and instead we are talking about someone who we paid to come in as entertainment come in and be facetious about something we stand vehemently against so I apologise for that. I was embarrassed.”
It has been tradition for a comedian to perform at the awards but Carlisle has called for the custom to be scrapped.
“I’m not lambasting Reginald D Hunter,” the centre-back said.
“That’s his act, it’s what he does. When you go to a comedy store you know you might have to leave your moral compass at the door, but the PFA Awards dinner, the showpiece of our season, is not the time to have an act like that
“I am having a go at us as a union for putting that kind of material on show.
“We are seriously going to have to discuss the format of our evening because when you book a comedian, especially someone who does push issues to their boundaries and beyond, we have to question whether our event is the right time and place for that and I personally don’t believe it is.
“It shouldn’t be a time for satire or politicising things, it should be a time for celebration. That was a massive error in judgement and it’s something we need to look at.”
Chief executive of the PFA Gordon Taylor denied it was a mistake to hire Hunter for the evening and claimed it was hard for the comedian to understand how much of an issue racism has been in football.
“I think there were a few raised eyebrows over the comedian but that is the sort of thing you can’t control. It was unfortunate. He is a professional comedian,” Taylor said.
“It’s a difficult subject in football and with him not being fully aware of how emotive it has been in football, that was probably a difficulty for him.”