England’s Football Association (FA) has broken new ground by naming Debbie Hewitt as its first female chair.
- Hewitt comes from a strong corporate background and is set to begin the role in January next year
- She will replace interim chair Peter McCormick
- English football has experienced turmoil off the pitch for much of this year
The FA, which was formed in 1863 and has been working to become more inclusive, launched its Pursuit of Progress initiative in 2018 to increase the diversity of those playing, officiating, coaching, leading and governing English football.
Greg Clarke resigned as chair last November after a row over his reference to “coloured footballers” during questions from members of parliament.
Hewitt’s appointment comes as the FA grapples with the England national team being booed by fans over the weekend for taking a knee to highlight racial injustice.
“As the events in recent months have shown, this is a significant moment in time for English football, with a clear purpose for all stakeholders to secure the long-term health of the game at all levels,” Hewitt said in a statement.
English football was also thrown into turmoil in recent months after a failed attempt by 12 European clubs, including six from England, to set up a breakaway European Super League.
Hewitt, currently chair of British company The Restaurant Group, was the unanimous choice of the FA’s seven-member selection panel.
She will succeed interim chair Peter McCormick.
“[Hewitt’s] experience across many different areas of business and general approach will allow her to work collaboratively across the game, while providing her own insight, experience and judgement on the issues that matter most,” McCormick said.
Hewitt is also the non-executive chair of Visa Europe. She will step down from her role with The Restaurant Group when she joins the FA in January 2022.