Dave Whelan
Dave Whelan faces the prospect of a further investigation from the FA Getty Images

Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan has attempted to defend offensive comments he made about Chinese people in an interview with the Jewish Telegraph.

Whelan, 78, admitted that he called Chinese people "chingalings" and claimed that the term was not intended in a racially derogatory manner.

"When I was growing up we used to call the Chinese 'chingalings'," he said. "We weren't being disrespected (sic). We used to say: 'We're going to eat in chingalings'.

"The Chinese weren't offended by that. That was the name everyone in Wigan called it [the first Chinese cafe in Wigan]."

The Football Association is believed to be looking into Whelan's remarks as it decides whether to take action.

The football chief's comments were heavily criticised by the Chinese community, who say the terms he used are highly offensive.

Michael Wilkes, a spokesman for the British Chinese Project, told The Guardian: "For many in the Chinese community, these words hold deep emotional resonance, as they are often used in conjunction with racial violence, harassment and hate crimes.

"Therefore, to say that there is nothing wrong with using such terms or that Chinese people aren't offended by their use, demonstrates a dangerous level of ignorance.

"We have noticed that Mr Whelan has truly gone out of his way to apologise to the Jewish community. It is a shame that the same level of apology hasn't been extended to the Chinese community."

Whelan is already facing an FA misconduct charge after claiming that Jewish people "chase money more than anyone else", and for referring to Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan as "a chink".

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraph, Whelan apologised profusely for his comments and said he has nothing but respect for Jewish people.

He also mentioned that "two Jewish boys" had shown him the ropes in market trading at the end of his professional playing career.