FA have a lot to be criticised for as they celebrate 150th anniversary
Published: 05.02.13 / Written by: David Gold
The Football Association may be celebrating their 150th anniversary in a blaze of glory this week, yet for all the good they have done for the game, as the first and original Football Association, there is much reason to criticise them for some of their actions and decisions over the years.
It was after all the FA who refused to send an England team to participate in the World Cup until after the war. That was sheer arrogance, believing the rest of the world beneath them, having withdrawn from FIFA in 1928 and only returned 20 years later. Thus the seeds were sown for a fractious relationship with the rest of the world.
England has always had its problems on the international stage when it comes to politics. Believing ourselves superior, morally, we have looked down on others with flagrant arrogance and alienated them with our attitude. At FIFA, England along with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland still has half of the voting power when it comes to changing the rules of the game. The four also share a guaranteed vice-president. These are privileges for no other reason than historical assumptions and a reflection of our role in starting the game. Yet this entrenched superiority does not endear the FA or the rest of the British nations to the rest of the world. It just creates tension.
There can be nothing more infuriating than being lectured by a nation which continues to preach from its high horse, whilst retaining such undeserved and illegitimate privileges. England and the home nations should accept and recognise this. It is also interesting of course that there are four home nations within FIFA, rather than just one – Britain. Of course this is what many around the world would like to happen, to restrict the home nations’ voting power at FIFA congress. That is another aspect of this relationship.
There was also of course the way in which Stanley Rous used to run FIFA, for the benefit of the Europeans at the expense of the rest of the world. The way in which Rous defended apartheid South Africa was a slight and shame on the English game, and should continue to be an embarrassment for us today. England must be humble as a result of such ineptitude and stupid mindedness. Rous was replaced by Joao Havelange, hardly an angel himself, but unlike the English he embraced the world’s ‘other’ nations. The forgotten nations.
So what have we got to be thankful to the FA for? Thank you FA, for alienating English football from the rest of the world. Thank you for turning your nose up at the World Cup until after the Second World War. Thank you for entrenching your privileges into FIFA statute to ensure that the world views us as arrogant colonialists. Thank you for giving us Stanley Rous, our last English FIFA President, who cast shame over this country with his support for South Africa. And thank you for breaking a gentleman’s agreement with Germany not to bid for the 2006 World Cup, which alienated us from the rest of Europe. Maybe there are moral issues with some other countries around the world, maybe some of the things that have happened at FIFA are wrong. What the FA have done is to ensure that we have no moral leg to stand on when criticising them. Thank you, FA, for giving us football. But since then, you have done little for the game.