By Tony Attwood
Sepp Blatter of Fick Fufa claims that English football is “run by idiots”, according to Sebastian Coe. Commenting on the first England 2018 meeting he said, “I had been truly shocked by the vituperative nature of the meeting I had just witnessed. There was thinly disguised contempt around the table.”
This is quite a change in stance, because previously Coe has blamed the British media for having the temerity to point out the wholesale corruption that dominates Fufa and running TV programmes and the like pointing out how disgraceful the organisation is. Now he says, “I am less willing to lay the blame at the media’s door. Ultimately the fault, I believe, lies with the awful dysfunctionality of the English game, its personalities and politics.
Certainly on this point I can agree with him. Dysfunctionality reigns supreme from the FA, via the clubs who exploit the huge financial potential of their owners through the Premier League and onwards. No one trusts anyone, and the latest Chelsea attack on a referee shows that the situation is getting worse. This is not me trying to judge the issue – of course I don’t know what Clattenburg said, but the fact that the case is happening shows how utterly dysfunctional everything in football is.
Some of Coe’s rhetoric however is weird. Try this one…
“As president of the international federation Blatter sees the unwillingness of English clubs to release players for international duty. He sees the purchasing power of the English game – big-name clubs buying up players from all over the world.”
Of course we don’t want to release our players, because the country managers will simply play them when injured and leave the clubs to patch them up just in time for the next round of internationals. What the hell do you expect us to think?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said, “Serbian police have announced that they have submitted charges against two England players and an assistant coach to the public prosecutor following an incident at the Under-21 football match in Serbia. We are investigating the full details of these charges before considering our response.”
Yes, Michel Platini has said Serbia could face sanctions if found guilty of racism. So what does that mean? Next time they will be fined what John Terry earns in 3 hours? The current position is so far away from anything sane that there isn’t even the start of a conversation.
Alex Horne, the FA general secretary said recently, “No football team should be asked to play in any environment where racial abuse, violence and threatening behaviour is prevalent.” So Mr Horne, it is easy. Very easy. Just stop the games. Stand up. Take a moral position. Say, “we are out, and any other nation that wants to play football in stadia where any racism is punished by exclusion of the country for 3 years, can join us.”
Only then, at that moment, would we see if there is any morality anywhere at all in football.
And supposing the rest of the world says “no, we quite like racism – at least we prefer racism to pulling out of Fifa” what would we have lost? Nothing. We would have gained our dignity and our moral position. Maybe for most people they don’t count for anything any more. Maybe it is just me.
So is there nothing good to say about football and Arsenal?
The best that comes to mind was the performance of Walcott in the league cup game. With Gervinho injured for the next few weeks, and with his recent form Walcott ought to be getting games, and ought to be able to play an alternating central and wide roll. If so, maybe he will sign a new contract – and that would cheer me up a bit.
But overall, for football, I despair.
You can support Arsenal or you can walk out. One of these is better for your health.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- “The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal”: crowd behaviour at the early matches