England football team underperforming as it has too many privately-educated players, Labour MP suggests

Stella Creasy - MP for Walthamstow - says team’s shortfallings could be because talented players in state school system being missed

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The Independent Online

England’s football team may be underperforming because it has too many privately-educated players, according to Labour MP Stella Creasy. 

The MP for Walthamstow said the team’s shortfallings could be because talented players in the state school system were being missed. 

Her comments came during a House of Commons debate on social mobility in which Conservative MP John Redwood said grammar school selection offered “life changing” opportunities for young talented players and musicians. 

However, Ms Creasy disagreed that selection was helping disadvantaged children, claiming 13 per cent of England team players attended a private school, as stated by former Labour health secretary Alan Milburn in his 2014 report on social mobility.  

“13 per cent of our national football team went to a private school, which is double the number of people who go to those private schools nationally,” Ms Creasy said during the debate. 

“Does he think that might account for the performance of our national football team, if we’re missing out on the talent that exists in the comprehensive sector?

“And will he recognise that that is precisely the problem that we’re looking at today? We’re missing out on talent as a result of too narrow a focus.”

However, Mr Redwood dismissed the remarks as “obtuse” stating: “I don’t think we are going to get a better team by training them less, and no longer giving them any kind of elite education."

Earlier in the debate, MP for Wokingham Mr Redwood said new grammar schools were a good idea because talented young footballers and musicians were selected at a young age to hone their talents.

"When I asked the shadow secretary of state whether she was upset by the fact that our elite sports people have usually been selected at quite a young age for special training, special education, and that they are expected to achieve to a much higher level than the average and they are given training and made to do extra work in order to do so, and she didn't seem at all upset by that in any way,” he said. 

However, former shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said the comments made "a particularly useless analogy.”

"Sport is not about the entirety of life. That is why education is different, and that is why it is wrong to label any child as second class at age 11,” he said. 

The Independent has approached the Football Association for comment.