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Has the FA gone far enough?

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David Bond | 15:55 UK time, Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Football Association's decision to abstain from next month's Fifa presidential vote was hardly a surprise.

Faced with the impossible choice of the incumbent Sepp Blatter or the Qatari challenger Mohamed Bin Hammam, the chairman David Bernstein had already hinted last week that abstention was the only credible alternative.

But should the FA have used today's long awaited decision to blow a far louder raspberry at the men in Switzerland who run world football?

Here's how the FA explained its decision:

"There are a well reported range of issues both recent and current which, in the view of the FA board, make it difficult to support either candidate."

This is hardly the sort of rhetoric many football fans would have expected following England's humiliation in the World Cup 2018 vote last December.

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In the immediate aftermath of that decision there were far bolder words from the FA. General Secretary Alex Horne talked of lobbying other disaffected nations to force Fifa to change. The acting chairman Roger Burden withdrew his application for job on a full time basis saying he couldn't work with an organisation which said one thing but then did another.

Since then Fifa has faced another round of damaging allegations about the probity of its executive committee members, with six now accused of asking for or taking bribes during the deeply flawed bidding contests for 2018 and 2022.

David Bernstein may be highly regarded for his skills as a leader by consensus, but promising to work hard to "bring about any changes we (the FA) think would benefit all of international football" doesn't quite reflect the way most people in this country feel about Fifa.

So what could the FA have done?

They could have put up an alternative candidate who could have lobbied for genuine reform. They would have stood no chance of winning but it might have helped frame the debate and draw Blatter and Bin Hammam into going further with promises to tackle corruption claims and make Fifa more transparent.

Or they could have worked harder on a boycott of nations who share their feelings about Fifa. Big sponsors like Adidas would have been extremely nervous if major markets like Britain and America started talking about pulling out of the organisation.

Instead we are left with this abstention, something which reminds me of Denis Healey's famous line comparing an attack from Geoffrey Howe to being savaged by a dead sheep.

Unsurprisingly Blatter wasted no time in sending a message back to England from Zurich, describing the move as "strange" and wondering why "the number one association in the world" had decided not to make a choice.

And of course the danger now for the FA is that whoever wins - and it is increasingly likely it will be Blatter - will simply brush the FA's opposition aside leaving England even more isolated. The FA's vote is just one of 208 and will make no difference to the outcome.

Perhaps events will prove the FA right to tread cautiously.

An inquiry into the allegations of corruption against four Fifa members made in parliament last week by Lord Triesman has only just started. That may force Fifa's hand.

Blatter has also revealed that the whistleblower who claims two other members received $1.5m (£927,500) from Qatar's successful 2022 bid has been asked to Fifa house to give their evidence in person.

But whatever happens with those inquiries, Fifa knows it's unlikely any of the latest claims will be backed up by hard, incontrovertible evidence.

And in the end the FA's stance may come to look like a hollow, meaningless gesture.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    If the FA were serious about trying to change the way FIFA operates they'd have done the truly brave thing and nominated Grant Wahl for President.

    As it is, the only viable option we have left is to limply declare our intention to abstain, a meaningless gesture which will, quite appropriately, do sweet FA.

    A ridiculous farce which shows the impotency of our nation governing body. Yes sweeping reform is needed in FIFA, but perhaps we should first be looking closer to home.

  • Comment number 2.

    ChangeFIFA approached the FA some time ago to put up an alternative candidate. They recommended former Chilean international Elias Figueroa. The FA rejected the offer.

    I believe they should have put forward their own candidate. A stable owner is now a spectator in a two-horse race.

  • Comment number 3.

    Just as a follow up, I noticed that it was Damian Collins MP who suggested to the FA that they should abstain.

    Would his party fail to put forward a candidate if there were only two other candidates in an election?

  • Comment number 4.

    The FA want to make their disatisfaction pubically known to FIFA and this is a good way to do it but at the same time it doesn't wanna bite the hand that feeds it, it knows Blatter will be the head of FIFA again and they can't be openly too hostile and they know that.

    It's all just politics, its a show for the fans in England rather than what really should of been done.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm staggered at the amount of bad press, allegations etc etc that FIFA get's yet it seems that nothing can be done. Reform is paramount to the future of not just English football but World football. Can you imagine any self respecting organisation acting in this way? it simply wouldn't happen.

    I'm no pro but it seems to me that FIFA have "cornered the market" to coin a phrase. They are so powerful and pull all the strings they can do what they like!

    I really do fear for the future of "fair football" .... Shame

  • Comment number 6.

    What I don't understand is why we (er ... the FA, I mean) don't just withdraw from engaging at all with UEFA and FIFA. I don't mean leave them, just drop out of any voluntary elements. We should also withdraw any/all funding to overseas associations.

    Why? Well we are never going to host the WC or Euros again - FIFA/UEFA do not like us. Blatter could not even bring himself to say that football started in UK - he said it all started in China - can you believe that!

    So what's the point of spending money in places like the West Indies? Jack Warner absolutely detests England - he is happy to say it and he's 2nd in command.

    Platini hates English football as well. So, we might as well close down everything except actually competing in the competitions.

  • Comment number 7.

    David Bond is right when he says the FA could very well be boxed into a corner come the voting result which apparently points toward a Blatter re-election. Surely the future of the organization must increase, substantially, the number of 'top table' decision makers from the paltry number it is now. That proposal, I know, is being mooted by Blatter's challenger who is in the rather unfortunate position of having question marks over his own football association; something Blatter will perhaps not privately mind too much about during the day of the vote. Long, long ago was the time to reform FIFA before it got anywhere near such serious accusations. When the home of football cannot rally support for real change or a boycott you know the apple is rotten, probably to the core.

  • Comment number 8.

    @6 It's just not realistic though. Really what we should do is break away and start fresh but the implications are huge... not just for England but for the PL.. they run the lot... CL, EL, EC, WC! unless everyone decided to jump ship then English football woudl collapse and we'd get no foreign players, no investment and no incentive to do well. Ideally it;s a great idea but in theory it just cant happen

  • Comment number 9.

    The FA should be loudly telling FIFA that it is on th everge of leaving.
    Its a corupt organisation that does little for the game of football other than line the pockets of those who run it in each country (this one included).
    Forget World Cups & who should host them. Lets just tell Blatter to sling his hook & take his dodgy mates with him!

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    FIFA needs to change, I think we all know it. They continually favour the biggest clubs, AC Milan - Barcelona etc etc and they disregard matters in football which actually require attention, I.E. the attacks on Neil Lennon.

    I read a blog; [ http://markbritton7.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/fc-barcelona-mes-que-un-club-you-bet/ ] all about Barcelona, well based on. But it covers into Blatter/Platini and how they've corrupted European football. Maybe worth a quick read if anyone fancies it, good blog. I certainly gave it 5*.

    The only remaining factor is, perhaps better the devil we know? Blatter is a pain, but at least we know what he does.... Food for thought.

  • Comment number 12.

    The trouble is that we have been part of this circus for alongtime. A few of us have known whats been going on . The revelations coming out are the tip of an iceberg.Just as the football world stood by in 2002 and let Italy be cheated out of their game against South Korea . FIFA has known itself to be "untouchable".Perhaps , just perhaps with the Qatar fiasco they may of gone just one degree too far. I just hope that Franz Beckenbauer will come out and let us know what really happened. Beckenbauer resigned because he knew how Australia were done up like a kipper. I just wish he would completly spill the beans on this rotton lot.

  • Comment number 13.

    I love how its our FA discussing FIFA corruption, Sharks in familiar waters there. The English FA are impotent to do anything about FIFA and useless at doing anything to keep our national game with the fans. Commercial and corporate greed run football and have for a while. Laughable as always, self aggrandizing publicity seeking no-bodies at our FA talking about FIFA its ket and pottle gents.

  • Comment number 14.

    Big front page splash on Telegraph/BBC/Guardian/Sky. Now venture a little further, try Die Welt, Le Figaro and La Vanguardia. Maybe the English Language Middle Eastern Papers? I've looked, it's not a headline, it's not a sports headline, it's not even a minor story. Lets stop kidding ourselves that they care what we think - they don't. This reminds me of a kid refusing to take part, because the others "just don't play fair". The reality is, as Jack Warner said "all of Europe hate the English". We actually have unique and superior rights on the Fifa board. Now we have played right into the French hands, who will no doubt now complain that as we refuse to cooperate, these should be taken away; much the same as they have done so very successfully in the EU. The real world is not all nicey nicey, you only have to look at BP in Russia for this to be abundantly clear. It's time for this country to grow some cahonas and start acting like a big boy, rather than a sulking, hated kid with no friends! I wonder what Eurovision would do if we abstained? Would it change it's ways? Don't make me laugh........

  • Comment number 15.

    Its a good decision by the FA . What other action could they take? FIFA Has needed cleansing for 50 years. Other football authorities should follow suit and deny FIFA the oxygen of legitimacy it craves.

  • Comment number 16.

    @14 - Good point well made

  • Comment number 17.

    Typical of our toothless FA, we cannot even get our own house in order, so how are we fans supposed to be able to support the FA in something that's happening with the FIFA. Come on FA stop being so gutless

  • Comment number 18.

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  • Comment number 19.

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  • Comment number 20.

    @8 You talk about unrealistic stuff and then say we should break away from FIFA/UEFA...

    Erm ok.

  • Comment number 21.

    The real problem is, as #14 said, we're not nearly as important as we think we are. The blog pointed out that we have only one vote of 208, which should tell everyone something about how significant we really are to FIFA. The FA is nothing. The FA can do nothing. The FA will do nothing, and nothing will change. Nothing ever does.

  • Comment number 22.

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  • Comment number 23.

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  • Comment number 24.

    David,

    "So what could the FA have done?

    They could have put up an alternative candidate who could have lobbied for genuine reform. They would have stood no chance of winning but it might have helped frame the debate and draw Blatter and Bin Hammam into going further with promises to tackle corruption claims and make Fifa more transparent."

    Given that the rumours/media reports immediately after the World Cup indicated that we were going to support Bin Hammam this option was not open to the FA when the new scandal came 2 weeks ago about since the nominations for the post closed at the end of Match

    Plus unless they were finding real support for the options listed by you the only thing that would happen would be we would drive a larger wedge between ourselves and FIFA/EUFA.
    Also Adidas probably don't care about the US too much as most of their advertisement over there will come from American Sports (Baseball, Basketball etc). That just leaves us and given the choice between the rest of Europe and the World (China and Brazil included) it's not going to worry Adidas in the slightest

    I have read a few of your blogs and generally do find them good and informative. However unfortunately I think this one is poor and merely serves as an attempt to give the public what they want which is an excuse to bash FIFA/UEFA and the FA

    The only things we should be unhappy about are:
    (i) Votes for 2018 and 2022 happened at the same time (I'm pretty sure we knew about this going in so we knew the risks and problems involved. To complain afterwards is pointless)
    (ii) The Qatar Bribery (IF proven to be true) which wouldn't give us the world cup anyway

    Swindonbluearmy (#8) - I agree with you and made some similar posts on previous blogs where the FA breaking away from FIFA was raised. It would be a disaster

  • Comment number 25.

    This is a childish response to the failed bid for the World Cup. I think the FA has a serious superiority complex. Yes England did invent the beautiful game, but are now acting like a spoiled child 'its my ball and NOBODY is playing with it.' Would this have happened if England won the bid? David Bond is correct in highlighting the FA are just one of 208 votes and the FA feel powerless because of this. Russia was the best result for the 2018 bid and it really rankles with the FA (and media) that Quatar won the 2022. Get over it!

  • Comment number 26.

    The FA needs to get it's own house in order first. The abstention to vote will only alienate us futher from whichever candidate manages to buy, sorry, win the election. It was not such a bad idea in principle, just in exacution. I agree with the author that it may of been better to put up their own candidate or at least test the waters by asking other nations if they also had the same reservations and formed an aliance/coalition with them.
    The only hope now is that other associations follow suit and publicy condem both candidates, otherwise we're just gonna be left out in the cold in an empty pram with toys scattered on the ground below us.

  • Comment number 27.

    Has the FA "gone far enough"?

    What do you mean? They've taken the coward's path, choosing to "abstain" from the vote - boy, THAT will put the fear into FIFA, you bet...

  • Comment number 28.

    The goal of FIFA and of UEFA has become to make money. Pure and simple. Because of the oligarchic structure of both organisations, they have come to resemble an aristocracy in it's worst form. When the profits of the world cup are being maximised so that Blatter can build his castle on one of the most expensive pieces of Zurich real estate, instead of promoting the grass roots game in countries like Africa, which are desparate for minimal amounts of investment, obviously something is seriously wrong with the idea of sport. Blatter is a Businessman, dedicated to revenue generation and his own remuneration. It is time to clear out the Pashas from the upper echelons, and get back to promoting sport.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think the article doesn't do the FA justice.

    Whilst the FA has it's own issues, it's a very influential organisation and hopefully the abstination will prompt a follow on from others.

    It's all futile however - what we need is new global body to govern football, because FIFA cannot change.

  • Comment number 30.

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  • Comment number 31.

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  • Comment number 32.

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  • Comment number 33.

    Oh dear! the FA have well and truly thrown their toys out of the pram. Sour grapes indeed.

  • Comment number 34.

    The only way that anything could possibly come of this would be for the FA to attempt to persuade other associations to follow suit, as in the "none of the above" vote in the film "Brewster's Millions". There are no doubt other digruntled associations, if enough are prepared to abstain then it will send out a clear signal.

  • Comment number 35.

    the truth is nobody outside of england will even care that we have choose not to vote. will blatter honestly be bothered that we will abstain? of course he wont because hes going to win anyway. we are showing that we dont support either candidate but were not putting anything against it either which is the main problem, were just sitting on a fence and getting splinters on our rears.

    sadly fifa will continue to do what they want while little is done. until there is a breakaway from countries to form something new then it wont change. sadly this is not going to happen either short or medium term. the sad thing for us is they have got us by the short and curlys because pulling out on our own would be nothing short of disasterous.

  • Comment number 36.

    More reason not to bother with international football. I think the Premier League and/or the big 18 that somehow UEFA or FIFA managed to dismantle should make the decision and go it alone with a non-sanctioned league with a European super league competition. This would mean we could finally follow rugby and cricket and get some decent technology into the sport and hopefully have full time professional referees that are properly backed up by the new power. Much like rugby we could then have citing panels if players get away with something that the referee misses. Just look at the stone cold penalty that Chelsea should have had in the CL to see how ridiculous it is having extra officials behind the goal-that never give anything! Time to not just clean up the game but lets also clear out and do everything better in a fit way for the 21st century.

  • Comment number 37.

    I compare England bid to that of a gentleman wanting to woo a woman and thinking he could do so with sheer brute force. While Russia and Qatar employed more subtle methods, appealing to hearts and minds of the voters England went about arrogantly mouthing off about how theirs was the best bid, and how they had the best fans and the better human beings than everyone else.

    Most annoyingly, the same press that had misled us into believing that we were going to win the world cup again hopeless predicted England getting the votes. Mind even the USA (our supposed greatest ally) voted for Russia.

    It is the height of self deceit to assume that the only reason England did not win is because of FIFA corruption. For the same reason we did not win the bid, Man United will not get the favourable decisions in their match against Barcelona. For this same reason England or its representatives have not been getting the 50:50 decisions for a decade when it really matters and will continue not to until we change this silly, arrogant attitude.

    We are no longer in the 19th century. We've got to wise up and stop using colonial methods. The approach simply must change!

  • Comment number 38.

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  • Comment number 39.

    I can't help but agree with paulnaj when he says that the FA may as well become a lot more insular. I love to see international cooperation and friendship, but it feels like few others are interested. A handful of countries seem to be able to play a fair game and the rest act like children. Why should we continue to hold the moral high ground when few others are interested in anything other than a myopic "every man for himself" strategy? It's not just this situation, but take the actual matches themselves. Say what you will about the England football team (and I know they're not angels) but the vast majority of the time they attempt to play relatively fairly. Even "developed" European neighbours like Italy can't resist constant diving, and FIFA won't do anything about that either. It goes beyond football into competitions like Eurovision, where again, we and the other few countries who attempt to vote based on merit end up at the bottom of the pile while everyone else plays by their own rules. Let them work it out for themselves - we've given them enough.

  • Comment number 40.


    The FA should immediately withdraw from FIFA and UEFA. This is regretable as there will be no future involvement in World Cups. However, this would not be the first time we have chosen not to take part , ie Pre War War II.

    A new Self Regulating FA should be created and structured to be transparent and accountable with integrity, ie let the fans vote for members of the FA board at national and international levels.

    A new inclusive World Wide Football tournament should be created, ie like the Olympic Games invite all 200+ footballing nations to take part and not just the usual suspects of 32 nations. Yes, it would be a logistical nightmare, but an event I am sure the UK could certainly pull off. What a cracking tournament this could be. A true World Cup with potential to generate huge revenues.

    In the short term, yes, English Football will be in the wilderness. However, future generations will benefit as they will be able to build on the success of a new accountable World Footballing Dynasty. All monies generated will be accounted for and distributed/spent as per the fans request.

  • Comment number 41.

    Spot on No. 14. I don't see any other country in the world complaining about FIFA. The BBC continues to push the idea of pulling out of FIFA angle but what a load of nonsense. No-one else would be remotely interested in joining us. No. 28, you are just plain wrong. FIFA redistributes most of the money it makes. The result is that every country in the world now has the money to field a national team and run a league. Where's the corruption in that? A pretty noble aim I would say. If only the Premier League had the same ethics and redistributed their money to the grassroots of football in this country...

  • Comment number 42.

    This is the FA that is so in awe of TV and sponsorship that it is allowing the FA Cup to be moved to 5.00pm next year and again on the same day as other PL games.

    The hell with the FA withdrawing from FIFA - every team in the country should withdraw from the FA.

  • Comment number 43.

    Who needs a World Cup anyway? The product is now so tainted that it would be a doubtful honour to win it, and the Champions League is a far more exciting and, dare I say, far more prestigious competion.

  • Comment number 44.

    Just a case of playing politics, without getting the person who they know will still be in charge after the election TOO anoyed with them.

    Posturing and nothing else.

  • Comment number 45.

    To Thefootballgenie (#40) and everyone else who still seems to think this is a good idea pulling out of FIFA will not work unless we can take a lot of the big players with us.
    IF we pull out by ourselves immediately any player playing in the breakaway league will be banned from participating in FIFA/UEFA events ie international matches, the World Cup, Champions League, Europa League. This would lead to a mass exodus of players from the Premier League (Pretty certain their lawyers would be able to get the contracts cancelled based on such a massive change). TV Revenues would dry up and even more players would leave.

    We can invite all these 200+ countries to play but unless they want to leave FIFA they won't be able to play (even if they wanted to) as they will get suspended if they play us.

    Besides even if the FA did lose their minds and attempt it, I'm pretty certain all the Premier league clubs (and probably a lot of the football league clubs as well) would simply break from the FA form a new one and reapply to join FIFA as a new body.
    The only benefit here would be a new FA with a chance for a new start, but does anyone think it won't be even more interested in the money in the game than the current lot?

  • Comment number 46.

    To HotdogSalesman (#44)

    If they know who's going to win it and they are trying to play politics then they are playing it very badly.
    They should be out publicly currying favour with that person and supporting him to the hilt

    To quote (possibly misquote) Sir Humphrey Appleby
    "You have to get behind someone before you can stab them in the back"

  • Comment number 47.

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  • Comment number 48.

    Isn't it heart-breaking, and doesn't it make you despair of finding a leader who will revolutionise FIFa when you look at the increasingly appalling behaviour of Michel Platini - a legend as a player.

    We expect no better of Blatter, Walker and their cronies, but Platini???

    England has to concentrate its energies for the good of the game into building an alliance with 2 or 3 of the bigger players in Europe - Spain and Italy for example, so that the rug can be pulled from under Blatter and FIFA by threatening withdrawal from World and even FIFA-run Euro competitions without leaving us and our friends isolated. Can it be done? I only hope it can for the sake of honest football supporters everywhere.

    FIFA is a cess-pit which has to be fumigated and re-built.

  • Comment number 49.

    England's abstention reminds me a little of a recent John Cleese joke - the reaction is so English its hilarious - England's way of sending a message to FIFA is to... Abstain! That'll teach them!

    Show them how darn cross you are! Perhaps even if the English FA delegate also puts on a stern face whilst doing so, that will really show them.

  • Comment number 50.

    PATHETIC!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The FA's just like the rich kid at primary school who had the only decent set of cricket stumps etc.

    As soon as you got him out, he took the lot home & went to tea.

    If there was the slightest whiff of impartiality or concern for football fans in the FA, it might help, but it isn't the case. They simply sold out to Rupert Murdoch & let him dictate everything.

    They should have made Roy Keane FA Chairman & put him up as a candidate. Might not have won the vote, but the campaigning would have been interesting.

  • Comment number 51.

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  • Comment number 52.

    To all those who are advocating that Englands pulls out of FIFA - I hope that they realize that this would mean no particpation for England in future World Cups (Men & Women) Under 21 World Cup and the World Youth Championships. If you are not in FIFA then you are well and truly OUT.
    While accusations of bribery abound, another of FIFA'S strange decisions has mystified me for sometime. They inexpicably allowed Australia to join the Asian Section in terms of World Cup qualifying and Blatter said that any Country could join any area that they wished. So this means that Scotland, who have struggled to qualify recently, could quite legally join the COCACAF group and would surely quailfy for the World Cup after the U.S.A. and Mexico and ahead of Trinidad, Costa Rica, Jamaica etc. They should really give it some thought.

  • Comment number 53.

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  • Comment number 54.

    43.
    At 21:06 19th May 2011, and_Solskjaers_won_it wrote:

    Who needs a World Cup anyway? The product is now so tainted that it would be a doubtful honour to win it, and the Champions League is a far more exciting and, dare I say, far more prestigious competition.
    __________

    Except that Blatter needs only a wink at Platini for England to be thrown out of the the competition, for whatever spurious reason that His Swissness may judge apt.

    This kind of militant abstentionism (for want of a better term) on the part of the FA would obviously carry more weight if they weren't still smarting from the embarrassing failure of the World Cup bid. These circumstances will ensure that the FA comes away looking a lot more bitter and vengeful than conscientious of fairness, as they would have us all believe.

    It may actually be the 'right' action to take, but it will quite likely see another 50 years of England wandering in the World Football Wilderness.

  • Comment number 55.

    bizarrely, my post was removed. I am frankly stunned, as I said nothing offensive or even vaguely controversial.

    So, I'll try again. What I said was simple - directed at #48, and others who hold his view generally: why are you so anti-Platini? Why are you all so quick to criticise him, call him anti-English, describe his behaviour as appalling etc?

    As I said before it was removed, people are often very happy to throw insults his way, but very rarely, if ever, have anything solid to back these up with.

    Just interested in peoples views, thats all. My own view is that the tabloid media chuck things around long enough and they tend to stick...

  • Comment number 56.

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  • Comment number 57.

    To ManchesterUnited4Ever (#45),
    Yes, I agree it would be helpful if we could take some of the big hitters with us, but this is not essential.

    English football as a TV spectacle is the best in the World, and no other country will ever come close to knocking us off our perch.

    Lets build on this unique selling point and take back control of our beautiful game. Lets create new transparant and accountable football associations at national and international levels. These organisations should be run by elected persons, perhaps on a voluntary basis to avoid any potential conflicts of interest/self interest for financial gain. AIM: The footballing community should benefit from commercial revenues not the individual.

    If we can demonstrate to the World that the new Footballing Organisation is transparent with integrity and revenues are given back to the community and not the individual, then surely the Big Players and Sponsors will follow or return to the fold in the medium/long term.

    Lets drive through new rule changes for the good of the game, ie goal line technology, lets encourage players from feigning injury and falling over when they may be tackled, etc which is very boring and killing the game.

    If the Big Players still decide to stay away, then so be it. There are many footballing countries who may sadly never get an opportunity to compete at the World Cup, (Thailand, Tonga, India, Phillipines, etc). Surely we could still organise an improved alternative football tournament built on sound ethics and principles.

    Yes, there may be an exodus of foreign players from the Premier League. Yes, UEFA/FIFA may ban players/countries from taking part in their competitions. Perhaps and arguably, the quality of football in the PL may decrease in the short term. So be it. As I said earlier our USP is that English football is loved throughout the World, we have the passion and game at heart like no other country. There will always be a demand for our product.

    In the medium/long term I am sure all true football supporters will want to be associated with a new football organisation that finally is accountable to the fans with integrity. This must be the future. The sands of time are fast running out for FIFA and UEFA.

  • Comment number 58.

    I don't care too much for FIFA but I agree with post no.25 in that all this bleating about corruption is just a response to not winning the bid. If the FA's bid had been succesful most people would have rejoiced, happily turning a blind eye to any suggestions of wrong-doing on the part of the organisation that would have awarded us the tournament. English football is hardly free of shady practices, so all this taking the moral high ground is just pure hypocrisy and childish whinging.

  • Comment number 59.

    @41

    Australia spent $45.86M of tax payers money for a bid which failed as spectacularly as ours. Their initial reaction was just as strong as England's towards FIFA. Perhaps the reason why they are quieter or the situation is because all the allegations have come from the English media and Triesman. However look at Australian News sources and you will see England's moves being reported, along with investigations of their own in regard to their failed bid.

    The initial reaction from America as well:

    "The United States was beaten by Qatar in a World Cup 2022 hosting vote that was about politics, friendships, alliances and tactics, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said on Thursday"

    Or a even more telling reaction:

    "There was a less diplomatic reaction from former U.S. international Eric Wynalda, now a television commentator, who was clearly angered by the voting.

    "Is this about soccer or about natural gas and oil? That's what has just won... they have just bought the World Cup," he said on Fox Soccer Channel immediately following the vote."

    England have allies against FIFA. I never checked the reaction of Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Japan and South Korea, but how do you think they will react if the corruption of the 8 members is confirmed? They won't brush it of with "There is always next time" attitude.

    FIFA's and England's reputation is balanced on the outcome of the corruption scandal, if nothing comes from it then it will look pretty terrible for England, but if something does come from it then FIFA will face big problems.

  • Comment number 60.

    A gesture, pointless and weak. The FA should have put up a candidate if serious. Grandstanding without anything grand to present. Sad...

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    If FA were to pull out, nobody outside england would miss it. FA be serious, you lost the world cup bid to Qatar because you were no organised and took it for granted that others will be charmed by the prospect of comming to england. First, there would have been a visa problem, and second, you just do not have enough space to spread the game! Crowded and always thinking 'we are the best'... 19th century mentality must stop and FA must start fighting for awards.

  • Comment number 63.

    Stop bleating FA. Surely you're not so niave not knowing what goes on. Move on!

  • Comment number 64.

    The FA can't even stand up to the EPL, they'd quake in their shoes if they thought too hard about taking a hardline with FIFA.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    Well done, FA. I like very much your gently, gently approach. If FIFA takes note and mend its ways and reform, then, congratulations to the FA for effecting positive changes without too much of a hassle.
    If FIFA doesn’t care and is indifferent; take me from me with my experience in criminology; the crooks will always repeat themselves and when they do so, I will nab them.

  • Comment number 67.

    Football needs a Kerry Packer type figure who changed the face of cricket in Australia and ultimately worldwide by taking on the establishment and setting up a new structure and competition. News Ltd did the same things with rugby league in Australia. Unfortunately both did it with an eye to the TV rights and increased profits but that is the driving force these days no matter how much such greed is detested. However, if a philanthropic benefactor (e.g. a Bill Gates) who would mix profits (which go to a charitable foundation as well as being ploughed back into grass roots development) with a genuine interest in running football in a just, fair, transparent and equitable manner. And Franz B and Bobby C where are you? I trust you but not the corrupt old boys club that runs football at the moment.

  • Comment number 68.

    I support the FA's decision to abstain, but would likewise, like to see more pressure put upon Fifa and other members to enact positive change. I do also agree with the fact that England will simply have to risk the irk of other countries if they are to lead the way in doing this - no easy task and so understand the tentative nature in which this will need to be done.

    What I don't understand is how the both Blatter & Bin Hammam are almost assured of backing from 'entire' confederations.
    There are 208 deciding votes and whilst different continental federations may voice their opinions, it does not seem appropriate or fair that they put pressure on their member's (countries) to vote their way of choosing.

    Can all 208 votes by continental members not be made faithfully and , entirely without interference from their governing confederations.
    One wonders how much bribery could exist at this level too.

    Fifa's own ethics committee is laughable and should be ashamed of themselves that not one of these allegations have been discovered themselves. An Fifa/Confederation/member country 'watchdog group' is whats needed.

  • Comment number 69.

    #52, James Autar, that's a good point about Australian going to South Africa through the Asian qualifiers (was it 4 places up for grabs?) rather than the Oceanic ones (1 play-off place was available), which was in all likelihood why New Zeland got to SA! They are no more in Asia than Sepp Blatter is a friend of English football.

    Without support from other football heavyweights, I just don't see England withdrawing from FIFA as an option, but I wonder if it would be breaking any rules to create a new organisation to run alongside FIFA, in the same way as the PL is distinct from the Football League, but teams from both leagues take part in the Cups. Like NATO outside of the UN. The new organisation could create its own competitions, which might put some pressure on FIFA. One problem is, this assumes the members of the new organisation would be any better than their counterparts at FIFA!

  • Comment number 70.

    The FA has at last done the right thing. It has sensed the growing mood in Western countries of disengagement from FIFA as it currently stands, and Sepp Blatter et al. It would have seemed petulant to have left FIFA in the immediate aftermath of the corrupted process for the selection of the venues for the World Cup. A gesture of abstention after this lapse of time feels measured, but is still a resounding vote of no confidence in Blatter or his alternative. I hope the FA will detach itself from this unprincipled organisation in due time, but with dignity. That is more likely to persuade other disaffected footballing nations such the US, Australia and Netherlands, etc to to do the same.

  • Comment number 71.

    David,

    had you taken a look also into Bernstein's election speech you would have known that he is more coward than to go against FIFA.

    except more decisions like this. Bernstein is incompetent and I have been saying this since he was chosen instead of the real class act David Dein.

  • Comment number 72.

    This abstention is a typical limp wristed politicians response to a serious problem. Having said that, we need to reform the FA before the FA makes any attempt at changing FIFA.

  • Comment number 73.

    Post 62 ianyandaga - I don't think that England bid for the 2022 World Cup which was awarded to Quatar. I thought that they only bid for 2018 which went to Russia.
    Maybe someone else can verify this?

  • Comment number 74.

    @20 Nicole - I said we should....but it's unrealistic to do so! too difficult for you?

  • Comment number 75.

    @73 Correct my friend...It was out counterparts underneath that got stitched up for the 2022!

  • Comment number 76.

    The FA need to egt themselves in order first, agreed.
    .
    FIFA need to sort themsleves out as well, hopefully (have to keep the faith) whoever is President for the next term shall oversee a much needed change in transparency.
    .
    There is far too much talk of corruption of bias, collusion, corruption for at least some of it not to be true. In fact did The FA not say thay they had been offering votes for votes in exchange?

  • Comment number 77.

    The current unhealthy situation (of a FIFA President being able to stand indefinitely) has not happened overnight.
    Where have the English FA been these past few decades ?
    One pictures them slowly extracting their heads from the sand, slowly crawling up the fence and sitting on it...............

  • Comment number 78.

    The problem is that the FA's credibility within FIFA is already low following the corruption stories in the newspapers prior to the WC vote, and then the humiliation heaped on the bid via the voters themselves.

    If the FA put up a candidate for FIFA President with, as you acknowledge in this blog, no chance of winning then how much lower will that credibility sink when said candidate gets blown away in the presidential vote?

  • Comment number 79.

    If the FA want to make a difference then they should look towards improving the game on our own soil, rather than chucking our toys out of the pram.

    Let's give the Premier League and the Football League a boost by introducing goal-line technology ourselves. On top of this, remove the stupid weakened-team rule, pour more money into lower-league domestic football, completely open the FA up so that everyone can see how it is run and start lobbying for "change" to other associations. We cannot oppose FIFA without offering anything better ourselves.

  • Comment number 80.

    You can't help but feel that Sepp Blatter's attempts to root out the guilty men of world football could be shortened by him simply buying a new shaving mirror!

    It's probably about time that the FA politely distanced itself from this venal charade and set about articulating a transparent future for football in England. Let those who agree join in!

  • Comment number 81.

    I'm never a fan of vote abstention. But I think more obviously - a point I have made time and again on blogs relating to Blatter - why on earth are there only two candidates for this role? Surely there are other high-profile names out there who have the inclination to stand, and have more than a shadow of a chance of winning? As David points out, the FA is one of the biggest associations in the world, so surely it is not beyond them to field their own candidate? This would make more of a point than simply refusing to turn up to vote.

  • Comment number 82.

    Does anyone know what would be the actual implications of withdrawing from FIFA?

    Obviously, we wouldn't be able to participate in the world cup, but i saw a post suggesting that the same goes for the euros, the champs league and everything else.

    Whereas according to Wikipedia, "A number of national teams that are members of their local confederation are not members of FIFA, and so are not eligible to enter the World Cup. They are however permitted entry to their confederation championship."

    So does anyone know if our teams could compete in the CL? would permiership clubs be allowed to sign players from FIFA-member countries? would we even be allowed to play friendlies against FIFA-member countries? Apart from the WC, what exactly would we miss out on?

  • Comment number 83.

    #82
    why would like to play with corrupt people.

    You guys are really bad losers, would you have made all this noise if you had one the bid.
    I don't think the FA is cleaner than FIFA because they have been part of FIFA all these years and we never had any complains so I am taking your noise with a drum full of salt!!!

  • Comment number 84.

    #83
    Not sure where your vitriol comes from. I'm just asking a question about the rules.

  • Comment number 85.

    If the big footballing nations came together, namely England, Spain, Germany, Italy, Brazil & Argentina and demanded a better slice of the FIFA pie, (i.e. awarding the WC to countries which actually play the game), I don't think FIFA could ignore it.

    I can't help but feel we can learn something from Formula 1. Not for one moment did I think FOTA would ever achieve a breakaway but the very threat of a breakaway did at least get a dialogue going.

    One thing is for sure, abstaining alone makes the FA look like sulky school kids.

  • Comment number 86.

    Can't post on Phil McNulty's blog so I'll try here instead?!?

    Whilst the action taken by the FA seems to be a bit wet, I don't think there was any other viable alternative if we want to compete in the premier competitions. The only other way we could have done this is if there was a bloc abstention by other FA's that support our own such as Australia, USA and as many others as we could get.

    57.At 23:09 19th May 2011, the football genie wrote:

    Whilst ideologically I agree with you I think you are being naive, if there was a mass exodus of the foreign contingent we have playing in the Premier League the revenue generated would drop, as would the quality. We would also lose approx 60% of the current first team players, not too mention how many of the promising youngsters we might lose across the board.

    The risk of the move is too high for the benefit gained. Whilst I don't like any of the current governing bodies, change from within seems to be the best option.

  • Comment number 87.

    If we feel that strongly about it, we should withdraw from FIFA.

    It's not sour grapes. In fact the FIFA committee sunk our 2018 World Cup bid because they were annoyed at British media digging up allegations about members. "remember the media", Blatter reportedly said before the voting began.

    It's a corrupt body and sadly they have too much power and have shown their true colours.

  • Comment number 88.

    I seem to recall the "dead sheep" Mr Howe was the one who instigated the downfall of Thatcher. The FA are of course in no way corrupt, they are merely totally incompetent.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    Is this the same FA who created the PL and separated away from the football league so they could all make loads of money and give sod all back to the grass roots??

    Sounds like sour grapes for not getting the World Cup to me, and the only way anyone will have sway over FIFA would be to have an arrangement with at least two more major associations like the French, Italians, Spanish to pull out of competitions.

    I wonder how FIFA would react if there were no Spanish, English or Italian teams competing in the CL or WC. That would give us some leverage but just the English, they would probably laugh and carry on as normal.

  • Comment number 91.

    As usual, the comments are more interesting than the individual posts.

    I don't think we should leave UEFA/FIFA. But as I said earlier, we should withdraw from all voluntary stuff. Only do exactly what's necessary - no more no less.

    The FA should definitely withdraw all funding to overseas associations. Maybe then some of the nations who receive funding might realise that there would be some self-interest in supporting the most important FA in the world (BTW I didn't say that - Blatter did).

    I don't think everyone will start 'liking' us, but at least we won't be so embarassed when we get nil points again, when pitching for world cups etc.

    Having said all that, if England did decide to start talking about leaving UEFA/FIFA (which won't happen, I know), we might find that there were quite a few countries that would be supportive.

  • Comment number 92.

    I'm sure i'll lambasted for this, but i don't see any problem with the FA withdrawing from EUFA/FIFA, and taking all the voluntary cash given to other associations with them.

    It's long past due, and i don't think England skipping a WC or two will do us any harm either.
    I reckon murdoch's lot would jump at the chance to forge a new association, with, once again, exclusive TV rights. As many have said, including the idiot running FIFA, "the English FA is the most powerful in the world". So let's use that, while we have it, and if neccessary, go it alone.

    Incidentally, i wouldn't be so quick to wail at the potential loss of "international stars" from the EPL. I don't think it would happen, as money, as FIFA seemed to have demonstrated (allegedly), talks far louder than words. English club fans are determindedly parochial, but let's not assume the foreign players are the same. They're in it for the money, and given murdoch's us and aussie affiliations, i reckon an alternate organisation would be up and running, very quickly indeed, with the existing access to the biggest markets in the world, moving immediately to "Modern World Football" or whatever it might be called. Those foreign players may not always speak the King's English, but they certainly know the smell of a pound.

    So let's get on with it. I don't think we'd lose much, and the potential for gain is far greater than Blatter or Platini would ever admit. I for one know that Russian football fans are mad keen on the Premier League, and wouldn't care which name is over the door, as long as they get their weekly feast of EPL, which pulls the greatest number of supporters, by a long long way.

    Bring it on, and let's have a quick, clean break, and save ourselves from Blatter and Platini getting yet another opportunity to humiliate the English game, with their relentless anti-english vitriol, while still expecting a handout for living above their station, under the clumsy guise of "promoting the world game".

    It's all nonsense, and we need to cut them off now, before they get even more comfortable, and fleece us for even more, all the while laughing at us. I don't care if anyone thinks it's sour grapes. I couldn't give a damn.

    I don't think we'd be on our own for very long at all.......

  • Comment number 93.

    David - FIFA is hardly a paragon of virtue, we know that, the FA has known this for years, yet the EFA have (presumably) voted for these same officials at FIFA, time and time again in the past..... Oh perhaps the FA did'nt know of the 'jiggery-pokery' going on at that time, we were total innocents!

    Do me a favour! How the FA has the gall to make accusations against FIFA, when its own house is less than perfect is beyond me. It will not matter anyway Blatter will go on running FIFA like he always has, with the full support of all FIFA members... oh perhaps the English will abstain... ye Gods its unbelievable!!!

  • Comment number 94.

    To thefootballgenie (#57)

    Sorry but I think you are underestimating the effect the foreign players have on the style and quality of the football payed in UK.
    The Premier League may be the most watched league in the world at the moment but take the foreign players out in one large lump and their is a massive talent gap to fill. If our english players are that good why aren't they being bought by the top clubs and played? The quality will plummet and the audiences and Sky and the sponsors will leave.

    Unfortunately the sponsors are only ever going to be attracted to things which will give them good exposure and therefore more profits. While they may come and sponsor us the deals will be much smaller than they are now.

    The players won't come back unless we can offer them more money (without Sky and sponsors this won't happen) or top class competition (and without other top countries to play against we won't have this either).

    However I should also say that I have nothing against the idea of a transparent and well run controlling organisation (perhaps we should concentrate on finding a way to make the FA like this first though) but if we want to breakaway from FIFA/UEFA then we should do so knowing what the consequences will be and be willing to accept those consequences
    Because if we quit over this issue then going back if we decide actually the grass isn't greener here would be very difficult especially if FIFA hasn't changed while we were gone

    In the end I think we may have to agree to disagree about this.

  • Comment number 95.

    To Alexanderski (#92)

    So all the foreign players are mercenaries only in it for the money - then why do the South American, United States, Australian and Asian international players spend 10hours or more flying for there national team games sevral times a year? They would lose this if the FA left FIFA/UEFA.
    It also seems to imply that our Britsh born lads are salt of the earth don't care about the money types. Top 3 reasons why not many English players play abroad at top class clubs
    (i) Money - the wages in the premier league are just as good as anywhere else
    (ii) Language Barriers - as a nation we are not the greatest at learning additional languages (general assumption is if it is important then they'll tell us in English)
    (iii) Not that many of the English players are actually that much better than a lot of the other talent available in the world on cheaper wages

    Murdoch would drop the premier league like a hot potato as he is interested in profits from selling the games to the viewers. Without the top layers and international competition the only people interested in English football would be the English/British
    He would simple go and invest in the Spanish/Italian/German league TV rights and start promoting that league as the best in the world. The world-wide fans will soon switch to it

  • Comment number 96.

    95. I'll have to agree to disagree with you on this one. I don't think Murdoch would drop the EPL at all, given his other other interests in the UK.
    And his organisation shows other leagues already, but they still don't make the same impact, so nothing lost there. Murdoch has wanted to push the US market for years, and if the US FA is as angry as others, he's got fertile ground at the moment to exploit.

    Your point about players flying to represent their national teams is a good one, but in a way you're making my point for me. Whether the FA is in FIFA or not, they're still going to do that, even if, for a while at least, there are rival organisations. But if a player thinks he's going to lose his generous weekly paypacket because Blatter says he can't play EPL and for his country as well, i'm not so sure you'll get a mass exodus. Human nature is what it is, and that's the same for English players as well. I can't see the Italian, German, Serbian, Russian, Spanish, Portugese, etc.... all willing to see their prized players play outside of the goldmine that is the EPL, and have to finance them instead. As was shown recently, in the WC, one of the faults of the English team is the lack of exposure to other types of game. Well, this is true for other leagues as well. The Spanish league would soon stagnate, for example, if all it's players had to be home grown and stay there, just because the Swiss chap says so, and not be exposed to those 'horrible chaps over the channel.
    I think it's a little naive to assume that foreign players are driven more by their love of the English game, than the financial benefits they get, plus the lifestyle so many seem to parade in the redtops on a regular basis. The love of the game is an admirable quality, but ask how many of them would rather play on lush green pitches every week, get paid extremely well, and enjoy the accolades of thousands of adoring club fans, over going back home to places that might not seem so......comfortable.

    I'm not suggesting that all foreign players are mercenaries, but money does talk, as it does for the English players participating in the EPL, of whom there would a percentage that could be considered mercenary, no matter how sincere they seem when they "kiss the badge."


  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    the FA leaving FIFA / UEFA would agreed be a disaster. However, the PREMIERSHIP is another matter entirely. The way to take on FIFA etc is to get the big 6 or so clubs to start talking again about a european league with spanish and italian clubs etc. This would wreck uefa. (and international football). A stronger lever than the FA have...

  • Comment number 99.

    As a Football (see, I know what sport it is!) fan and supporter here in the US, I support what the FA is doing against FIFA 100%. I really hope and wish that the US Soccer Association will join forces with the FA and support their action. I hope the FA has reached out to the USSA to see what common ground we have regarding FIFA and their shenanigans.

    However, I'm not sure that the FA leaving FIFA is a good move. Not until there is more support for such a move from other associations. I'd hate to see the Premeirship lose the opportunities that they get playing in the various UEFA cups. Plus, I may lose the opportunity to see the Spurs on TV. :)

    Hang tough guys!

  • Comment number 100.

    Do you guys actually think the FA abstaining from the election makes any difference? who cares?. As a neutral (anglophone african living in the USA), the unconscious arrogance from comments by the average english, pre and post 2018 world cup is unbelievable. Which other top country do you think will join you in leaving FIFA (Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Argentina etc)? they dont seem bothered to me. Other bad losers from Zurich (Australia & USA) have moved on, Its time you do the same.
    FIFA is a shady cabal and probably corrupt but to claim you lost the right to host the world cup cos of that is blindly ignoring the obvious. Its politics and you are poor at it and maybe the outside world just dont like you. Platini, Beckenbauer etc didnt vote for England, were they bribed too?. I wanted England to win the hosting right (as it would be cheaper & more convenient for me to watch the world cup) but i think Russia is a good choice. its the WORLD CUP not Western european cup?

 

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