From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.01 :: Jan. 06, 2011

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FOOTBALL / FEATURE

Take me to your leader

Sir Dave Richards, the one Briton on the FIFA Executive Committee had a senior foot in both the FA and the Premiership, yet seemed to make little impact in either as indeed he had in his years as Chairman of Sheffield Wednesday. Right now, the FA seems largely in the hands of obscure anonymities. Over to Brian Glanville.

Take me to your leader! But when it comes to the Football Association, who is the leader? The recent massive humiliation of the World Cup venue awards, when the English delegation, supposedly reinforced by no less personages than Prime Minister David Cameron and the future heir to the throne Prince William, grovelled to a series of crooks, reprobates and twisters, will all too long be directly remembered.

The chief of the Football Association was someone called Andy Anson and if you had never heard of him before then nor had I. A pretty feeble fellow he seemed, though tough to tell, the FA bid team might just as well have thrown the GBP7million or so it spent on its doomed campaign down a drain as persevere in a quest so hopeless, the whole sordid business having been done and dusted long before the bidding teams turned up at that sink of inequity which FIFA became, as soon as the ruthlessly acquisitive Joao Havelange unseated Stanley Rous as president of FIFA in 1974. For FIFA its hierarchy and its various peripheral figures there is only one thing that talks and that is money.

The shame, the paradox of the whole malodorous business was surely summed up in the way that Prime Minister Cameron, both on London and Zurich, courted the ineffable Jack Warner of Trinidad, whose CONCACAF controlled vital votes, and who had a record as long as tour APM on finagling and black market World Cup ticket dealing. Loathed by the brave Trinidad players, who excelled themselves at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, only to find at their promised bonuses weren't paid.

The crowning irony of it all was that, despite Warner's supplication, not only by Prime Minister Cameron, but also by Prince William, when push came to shove, he blatantly and perhaps predictably broke his promise and didn't even vote for England. Then there was the nauseating spectacle if correctly reported of Prince William in converse with the outrageous Paraguayan Nicolas Leoz, now 82, president of the south American Federation, accused by the BBC Panaroma TV programme with documented chapter and verse, of pocketing US$600,000 in bribes from the now defunct ISL organisation, which acquired hugely lucrative rights from FIFA, before its collapse.

Not that things were any better in the recent past. Anson may have weakly truckled to FIFA before the votes after which he spoke irrelevantly of how much better it would have been had the FA only known the FIFA plan was to give World Cups to countries which hadn't had it before as if that rather than money was the criterion. But at least he didn't go as far as an idiotic former sports minister, Richard Caborn, who asked newspapers and broadcasters not to publish their accusations, but to take them to the FIFA ethics committee! Which as we know, under the former Swiss international footballer, Claudio Sulser, proved pricelessly lame duck.

Some months before the scandals of Zurich, we had the lesser scandal of the embarrassing Lord Triesman affair. A Government appointee as top banana at the FA, A wealthy politician and Labour supporter who had inexplicably been for some years a Communist and the Government wants to send in its own appointees, such as they unimpressively would be, yet again Triesman, having made minimal valid impact in his role, was caught out by a treacherous young woman, whom he'd plainly been trying to impress with wholly fictitious tales of collaboration, four nefarious purposes between Spain and Russia, Triesman had to resign after these unfounded accusations of conspiracy between the Spanish and Russian football authorities. Triesman had made himself bid Chairman too to the fury of the Premier League.

Sir Dave Richards, the one Briton on the FIFA Executive Committee had a senior foot in both the FA and the Premiership, yet seemed to make little impact in either as indeed he had in his years as Chairman of Sheffield Wednesday. Right now, the FA seems largely in the hands of obscure anonymities. Who, exactly is the so called General Secretary Alex Horne declared ineptly, at a recent Press conference, that the FA “must work more closely with football people” as opposed to rugby people. Oh, please meanwhile Sepp Blatter, Havelange's slippery successor as FIFA President, hopes to get the Nobel Peace Prize when Henry Kissinger won it, that supreme satirist, Tom Lehrer, announced that we was giving up satire.

Alas, there'll never be another Stanley Rous, FA Secretary from 1934 (When he refereed the FA Cup final to 1962 when he became President of FIFA). Rous transformed the FA a fervent internationalist, initiated coaching courses in England, redrafted the laws of the game. Certainly something of a snob, hardly commendable for installing his protégé, Walter Winterbottom, as first permanent England team manager and keeping them there for an absurd 16 years through well and high water. Never, you might say, too interested in the troops on the ground, he nevertheless had integrity and authority.

Ideally Winterbottom, a better administrator than he was a team manager, should automatically have succeeded him as FA secretary, but the maligned Sir Harold Thompson a gifted scientist but an incessant intriguer, who had Rous, saw to it that the role went to the flaccid Denis Follows whom he duly drove into a breakdown. Later, we had a chief FA executive Graham Kelley who moved from the same role in the football league. Whom he proceeded to sell down the river, when he collaborated with the leading clubs to form the Premier League which I christened the greed is good league. He and the FA chairman a Southampton coroner were ignominiously forced out when found guilty of promising money to the Welsh FA in exchange for their support for an English candidate on an international board.

Adam Crozier got the job despite it being known that he had assessed his figures as an advertising executive at the Daily Mail in a disastrous reign. He moved the FA officer from inner London, Lancaster gate, to hugely expensive premises in Soho Square, in the West End, sacking valid old retainers and enlisting a regiment of young women market researchers on GBP89,000 a year contract. He's since glided from a lucrative job the Royal Mail, in television after another.

Scandalously both Sven Goran Eriksson when England manager and the then main man Mark Palious had affairs with an exotic FA secretary. What made it all the more squalid is that Palious, ex-footballer turned city trader tried to strike a deal with the ‘News of the World' to cite Eriksson but leave him out of it.



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