By Tony Attwood.
One of the great consquences that there might be if Fifa falls is that the FA, a big supporter of Fifa, of Jack Warner and of Platini, might fall down into the hole with them.
It doesn’t matter whether it has been the FA’s inability to deal with Richard Scuadmore’s sexist commentary on women, or its oh so close relationship with Jack Warner, its cozying up to Fifa by bidding for its tournaments and supporting Platini, or its inability to handle the Dr Carneiro affair, the FA fails. It always fails.
Just cast your mind back to Greg Dyke, chair of the FA, contemplating the Richard Scudamore emails. Dyke described them as “totally inappropriate” but then said they were “private emails exchanged between colleagues and friends of many years.”
Indeed Dyke wrote to Edward Lord, a member of the FA’s inclusion advisory board who was the only person asking the questions that should be asked, saying “our policy has always been that we do not consider something stated in a private email communication to amount to professional misconduct.”
Then in September 2014 Edward Lord was sacked by the FA for “failing to support his colleagues”. Or asking interesting questions as we might say.
This is how it has always been with the FA. Take for example the time last year the Daily Mail ran a big story about “A group of footballers suspected of being involved in match-fixing are playing at English clubs with the knowledge of the Football Association.”
The FA apparently admitted to the paper that they had a ‘watch list’ of active players ‘of interest’ who, but said they cannot prevent them playing. The matter seems now to have gone away.
If we were wondering what the FA was trying to hide, in June this year the Mail on Sunday, who seem to have gone out on their own in exploring what the FA is up to, announced in a headline, “FA fear FBI probe with troubling questions in FIFA scandal after schmoozing former vice-president Jack Warner, a trip to Prince Charles’ home and a £135,000 sweetener.”
Warner is still avoiding extradition to the US, and as long as he does, the FA might be safe from questions about what he “warm relations” with the FA amounted to. Certainly in the preliminaries to the disgraceful waste of money that could have been spent on grass roots football known as the 2006 world cup bid, Jack Warner came to England, and according to the Mail, was taken by the FA on a “special flight to Manchester, where he was a guest of honour at Old Trafford.” He then flew to a government dinner in his honour hosted by Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
“It was a lavish occasion in private rooms at the Tower of London. The FA then laid on a helicopter for Warner, who hopped aboard with Sports Minister Tony Banks and took a sightseeing trip across the capital…
“An official FA report later spoke of the ‘warm relations’ by then established between Warner and FA chairman Geoff Thompson. So warm, in fact, that the very same trip, the FA said, ‘resulted in the signing and issue of a declaration of intent under which the FA, over a five-year period, would extend further help with the development of football in the Caribbean and Central America’.”
So how much did this “initiative” cost? We don’t know but it was followed up by the FA (which recently made a third of its staff redundant in an attempt to escape from its escalating financial problems which may well have had their root in this sordid relationship) wrote off “a £135,000 debt owed to the FA by friends of Warner at the Jamaica FA.”
Warner then got England to play a friendly in Trinidad against his national team. The Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation earned millions from ticket sales and TV rights for a game.
According to the Mail on Sunday newspaper, “One former high-ranking FA insider told the MoS: ‘I know the FBI are going to come after us. It’s just a matter of time’.” And the point is therefore that when Warner does get forced to America deals like this will come up. Untold awaits with interest.
The problem with the FA is however not just its rank stupidity, and its rampant sexism. Like all debased organisations it simply never knows when to stop.
For example Prince Charles when paying an official visit to Trinidad spent time with Warner and his friends at the FA’s behest. Warner has also been to Prince Charles’s Highgrove House according to the Mail, and the FA requested Prince Charles’s son William as well as David Cameron and Beckham to cozy up to FIFA’s executive (the bunch now awaiting extradition to the US) in Zurich.
Even more obscenely in May 2000, the FA got the British ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, to visit New York and lobby… Chuck Blazer – one of the most appalling men in the affair and one of the men who has already pleaded guilty.
Meanwhile the FA apparently “sponsored a $55,000 (£35,000) gala dinner for the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) which the summary of Michael Garcia’s FIFA corruption probe said was to ‘curry favour’ with Warner.”
FA director Heather Rabbatts said on this matter, “We have to look within the FA at the processes and we will do so in the forthcoming weeks…. The FA’s reaction to the treatment of Dr Eva Carneiro has been seriously disappointing. I have major concerns over the way in which the disciplinary process has been conducted and the lack of an organisational response to the wider issues raised by this case.
“A highly respected medic, a woman at the top of her profession in football, has been mistreated, undermined, verbally abused and yet no one apart from Dr Carneiro has faced significant consequences.”
Meanwhile the Women in Football campaign group (whose leader recently addressed the AGM of Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn) submitted expert evidence that it said showed Mourinho was specifically targeting Carneiro with sexist abuse when he exploded in fury as she and another medic, Jon Fearn, entered the pitch to treat Hazard.
But guess what. The FA said its own independent expert found no evidence Mourinho had specifically targeted Dr Carneiro. Which presumably means he just abuses everyone.
Dr Carneiro has said that she has never been requested by the FA to make a statement about her constructive dismissal, adding “I wonder whether this might be the only formal investigation in this country where the evidence of the individuals involved in the incident was not considered relevant.”
The FA said they had written to Dr Carneiro’s lawyers. So that is the classic FA get out. “We wrote to them. What more can we do?” (My answer is that they should produce the recorded delivery counterfoils they would have got from Royal Mail when they posted the letter. That’s what I do when I am called upon to show I’ve written to someone.)
Meanwhile, the work that the FA should be doing, doesn’t get done, so others pick up the pieces. For example, in response to the total failure of the FA to engage properly in the schools sport programme the Premier League has now agreed to pick up the pieces and is discussing setting up a grassroots sport fund with the government. And that means in the end, this is where some of our ticket money is going. I don’t begrudge paying for school sport, but I do think we could first use the money that would be saved by winding up the FA and letting Untold run affairs from the spare bedroom in my house. We’d do a better job.
The school sport programme operates in 4,158 of the 26,100 schools in England, and the Premier League wants to take this up to 10,000 schools in the next three years and 21,000 within six years.
The programme offers PE lessons and teacher training which the government fails to provide through its funding of schools. The prime minister, a Mr David Cameron, said, “Every child should have the opportunity to play sport, benefit from great coaching and be part of a team,” while failing to add “but despite taking in record sums in taxation, the state isn’t going to pay for it – although we will probably come to the rescue of the FA when the shit really hits the fan. After all, we’ve been instrumental in supporting people like Warner and the rest of them, for years.”
From the Anniversary Files
8 October 1930: Arsenal won the Charity Shield for first time beating Sheffield Wednesday in a match played at Stamford Bridge in front of 25,000. Reported in some volumes as 1931.
8 October 1932: Final appearance of Tom Parker – the club’s first trophy winning captain. He became player manager of Norwich City and took them to the championship in 1933/4.
- The Untold Arsenal Banner is now on permanent display inside the Emirates Stadium
- A Memorial to the founders of Arsenal’s Highbury dynasty.And we’re on Twitter @UntoldArsenal