The press are suggesting Thierry Henry cheated his way to his coaching badges. But there is more to this than it seems.

By Tony Attwood

As you may have read Thierry Henry has been working his way towards completing his Uefa A licence, and having that means he can manage professional clubs below the top league level, and can manage a top flight team at academy level.   There is one more licence to be had before he can manage any club he wants to and who will have him.

But, of course, this is an ex-Arsenal man we are talking about, and where Arsenal is concerned there is always controversy.  Not necessarily real controversy, it might be totally invented, but you can be sure the media will invent it if it isn’t actually there.  Arsenal is always a story, and the muckier the better.

Here we have no exception.  Questions are being asked about whether Thierry cheated or not.

To get one of these licences one must work with a recognised Football Association, and it doesn’t have to be the Association who you represented, or might have represented if you had been good enough.   So if you had a mind to, and spoke the lingo, you could fly anywhere in the world and start working through your licences.  Azerbaijan for example.  Or Venezuela.

This is pretty much the way things are with playing for a country, as I touched on yesterday.  Using all the various options you can by and large play for anyone if you are good enough.

Anyway, Thierry studied with the FA of Wales and now suddenly the media has picked up on this and suggested that somehow it is not a proper qualification because it comes from…. Wales.

It’s the Independent newspaper and in the Daily Mail, both arguing that somehow Thierry was “fast-tracked”.  Indeed they have gone further with the slur that Thierry “could not have completed all the requisite work in the short period of time he spent registered on the course.”   In other words it is a con.

They even found Will Foley, who is described as Welsh-based Scottish coach, who played for Swansea.  This man is being put forward as something of an authority on these matters, and people commenting all say (when mentioning his name) “who played for Swansea” but in reality he played briefly played for Swansea City during the 1985-86 season on a non-contract basis as well as playing for Merthyr Tydfil, Pontllanfraith, Barry Town and Frickley Athletic.  He played for Newport until they folded and then played Point Chevalier (New Zealand), Hereford United, Worcester City, and Brecon Corries.  Not exactly the first name that you would think of, if waiting for a comment on methods of training for a licence.

This is what Foley said: “There was no way humanly possible Thierry had even completed his UEFA B licence and could have finished all his assessments and tasks on the A licence when everyone else participating on the course has not even had the chance.”

Now the FAW has become something of a favourite arena for getting licences.  Jens Lehmann, Marcel Desailly, Roberto Martinez, Patrick Vieira and David Ginola have all also completed coaching badges there.

“Where does it end with the Welsh FA?” Foley (who is described as “a coach” but who has no job as a coach listed anywhere I can find on the internet) said to the Daily Mail. “Are they not worried that someone somewhere will start asking to see proof that all these top names are completing what is required by Uefa to fully pass the courses.

“They are quite openly putting certain chosen names through the courses without completing the so-called allotted number of hours which all the candidates have to be seen to be doing.  The big names get an easy ride while the others have to do it the hard way.”

And maybe that is all true, but the fact that only Foley is making a complaint does suggest that either there is a massive cover up, (which is dangerous because such things have a way of unravelling) or maybe there is some other explanation.

The deficit in the number of coaches that England has was one of the first major stories we broke on Untold, and it has since appeared in many places – the Telegraph ran an article of amazing similarity to our a few years back.  They didn’t credit Untold of course, but then…

Roughly speak England has just 1,200 coaches at UEFA “A” level. compared with 13,000 in Spain and 5,500 in Germany. As to the “Pro” Licence  England has 200 coaches, Spain 2,140 and Germany more than 1,000.    This lack of coaches, as our original article shows, links directly to the success or otherwise of countries on the international stage.

But now consider the cost.

The FA, who are basically bankrupt following the building of Wembley and a series of wild expeditions, such as spending £30m on bidding for the world cup when everyone knew the bidding was fixed, charge for a UEFA “B” License over £2000. In Germany, the cost is €430; in Spain it is €1,100.

For the “A” License, an English coach using the FAW is likely to pay up to £5,820 — but in Germany it is €530 and in Spain €1,200.   In Wales it is £3700.

Now the FA has used licence fees as a way to patch up the holes in its accounts for years (and remember it made a third of its staff redundant last year).  Other countries don’t have such a problem.

Of course our Thierry is hardly short of a few quid to spend on a coaching course, but the fact that the pricing is different shows just how different each organisation is in the way it runs coaching.  The FA is notorious for its inefficiency, and the vast bureaucracy it has built up over the years.  And it seems, since the word has got around about the FA, fewer and fewer people want to be trained in England.  So the number of England course is declining fast.

In short it is not how long it takes that affects people’s decision as to where they train, but how often the courses run.  In England it is very, very rarely.

I considered a part of that bureaucracy recently in an Untold article, by looking at the FA Council.  Here is an extract from that piece…

“The FA Council has 21 Life and Senior Vice Presidents drawn from such bodies as Cambridge University FA,  Leicestershire & Rutland FA, the Independent Schools FA..

“Then six vice presidents, eight representatives of the Premier League, eight representatives of the Football League, ten divisional representatives, 43 county association representatives, eight representatives of affiliated organisations, nine representatives of other football associations (such as the University of Oxford Football Association, and several organisations that have already got special representation in earlier mentioned sections), one supporters representative, one disability representative, two inclusion representatives, a chief executive officer and two independent non-executive directors.”

There is one representative of supporters.

That gives you a clue as to what is going on.  If you were going to be trained up as a coach, would you choose the English FA?

In football, no one ever talks about the real problem.

How the level of coaching varies between countries and affects their chances of winning anything

Why we must stand up and fight the FA’s attempts to restrict the number of foreign players in the Premier League


Danny Karbassiyoon’s book “The Arsenal Yankee” with a foreword by Arsene Wenger will be published on Tuesday 29 March.  You can read his interview in the Independent here.   You can buy the book…

  • On line here for £14.95, plus delivery
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The cost of packing and delivery is UK £3.95, EU £4.95, Rest of world: £5.95, and that applies irrespective of the number of books ordered.   The book is also available on Kindle.


From the Arsenal History Society


13 Replies to “The press are suggesting Thierry Henry cheated his way to his coaching badges. But there is more to this than it seems.”

  1. I would certainly choose the English FA if I wanted to be schooled and qualified in kick and rush, and rotational fouling, but hopefully, TH is a bit better than that..
    Surprised the press have neglected to mention one other thing…..Arsene Wenger doesn’t have any of these badges…….

  2. @ Mandy

    Thought I would remind you and possibly others of this regarding Arsene’s football qualifications. from wiki

    ”Wenger spent the last two years of his playing career predominantly running RC Strasbourg’s reserve and youth team. He became conscious of the importance of speaking English and during his holidays enrolled on a three-week language course at Cambridge.[36] Wenger also studied for his coaching badge at the Centre de ressources, d’expertise et de performance sportives (CREPS) in Strasbourg – this consisted of a course to coach children, followed by an intensive six-day course which led up to the national coaching badge.[37] The latter programme took place in Vichy and was spread over three weeks. Wenger was able to put Frantz’s teachings, particularly isometrics into practise.[38] In 1981 he received his manager’s diploma in Paris.”

  3. Let me first of all wish all and sundry on the Untold Arsenal website a happy RESURRECTION DAY celebration as we celebrate LIFE today after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whose resurrection from the death after spending 3 days in the old ancient dungeon of hell, collected the key of the old dungeon door from Satan and set the captivity free and then hold the captivity captive by locking him up there and depart. Hallelujah!!! He has risen.

    This controversy on Thierry O’Herry getting his grade B coaching licence in a record time from the Welsh FA should be officially investigated to ascertain the true of the matter so as to clear the unpleasant air surrounding this case. Otherwise, O’Herry’s grade B coaching licence credibility from the Welsh FA will be doubted among coaches in Europe and may not be respected.

  4. Thanks Colario…..badges or not, Wenger is pretty qualified to be a manager!
    Was referring to the modern day UEFA badges, think when they bought them in, managers with ten years or more were exempt… I think, but stand to be corrected, the likes of Wenger and Purple nose have none of these badges.

  5. Henry a cheat? Whatever next? The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) may have a view.

  6. Mandy, what disgusts me most with the ‘Wenger out’ imbecilic media and fans who chant ‘Wenger out’ when we lose a game is that they have no idea how lucky we were to get Arsene in the first place.

    Yes he had his coaching/managerial qualifications but also he came having won the French league and cup with a small club and came close to repeat this. Had experience of managing in Europe but above all ( and this for me makes it) he came to Arsenal ‘ready made’.

    By this I mean his experience and knowledge of football management meant that he was ready to turn a club any club into a great club.

    To quote the crowd in the thirties ‘Lucky Arsenal’

    With all the abuse he has had to put up with, he could have walked away from the club and English football with his head held high. I for one would not have blamed for doing this.

    A great man and a great manager.

    With pride I say, Je suis un gooner, merci Arsene.

  7. We were immensely lucky to get him. If you didn’t know, spurs legend Glenn hoddle played under arsene at Monaco and there also under the frencan’s tpitelage, he learnt the art of football management.
    Years later, when he has manager of england, David dein approached him to inquire about this unknown Frenchman and whether signing him would be good or not. Hoddle, being a spud, could have and should have said no and instead recommended him to the spurs board. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for them, he said yes. And the rest is history.

  8. I loved Thierry Henry as a player. He gave me many years of enjoyment. He never played second fiddle to anyone. A truly great player.
    But our dear Thierry Henry is such a disappointment as a pundit. It seems like he is now reduced to a poor sod who has to sing for his supper. The great Thierry, our great Thierry, looks so weak and feeble when Jamie Carragher is attacking Arsenal at every turn and defending the very average Liverpoo.
    Sadly, it’s not only Thierry who looks weak and lacking a backbone. The other one is Ian Wright. It’s really sad that OUR heroes don’t have backbones.
    All former Man Utd superstars tend to nearly always defend and promote Man Utd.
    All former Liverpoo superstars nearly always promote and defend their ailing team when they do punditry work.
    All former Spurs players tend to always have a good thing to say about Spurs.

    Arsenal has not won a league title for about 12 years. That makes Ian Wright and some of our heroes go mad with criticism of Arsenal and Le Prof.
    Liverpool has not won the Premiership for about 26 years but that doesn’t make Ian Rush, John Barnes or Carragher criticise Liverpool. Never.

    I can forgive Merson for always critising the Arsenal. Merson was never my hero. I never regarded him as a great player. In fact, I saw him to be a wasted talent due to his love of drinks, etc. He hates Le Prof and Arsenal because he was shown the door. When he left Arsenal he never had a career worth talking about. He probably needs a punditry career because the fortunes he earned football could have been wasted.

    It really hurts that my great football heroes Ian Wright and Thierry Henry are such poor pundits as far as not displaying the Arsenal perspective (just as Carragher favours Liverpool, and Dwight York and Garry Neville favour Man Utd, and Glen Hoddle favours Spurs).

  9. Quite honestly I couldn’t give a fig. Henry is quite happy to take the Sky shilling and go along with the preset anti Arsenal narrative when he does his increasingly negative and frankly myopic, dull “analysis” pieces. Does he think that doing so exempts him from the general bullshit from the press?
    Welcome to the real world, Mr Henry.

  10. I do assume that the entire course was conducted in the Welsh language ? Just send his final paper to whoever is in charge to recheck the results.
    To verify it difficult it cannot be !

  11. Brickfields:

    Thierry Henry yn dysgu sut i reoli pêl-droed yng Nghymru.

    Thierry Henry learns how to manage football in Wales.

    No guarantee this translation is accurate.

  12. Anyone who can pronounce Cardiff in the Welsh language should be given a medal !
    Try it …. caerdydd .

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