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June 2021

Why the government can’t reform the FA, and why the FA will (sadly) survive forever

By Tony Attwood

If you have taken a glance at the broader news of football of late you will know that there is an ever deepening scandal surrounding the FA at the moment, a scandal that has swamped Greg Clarke, the chairman, and Martin Glenn, the chief executive.  It has shown the FA completely unable to deal with the wave upon wave of allegations of racism and sexism and has shown the UK government unable to deal with the matter.

In a few words I want to set out the magnitude of the scandal and show exactly why no one will do anything about it.

The FA has appeared before a parliamentary hearing of the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee, and their answers to questions were so inept that it was hard to believe, and of which even the FA supporting Daily Telegraph called the performance a “car crash”.

Eni Aluko has now accused Martin Glenn of blackmail and England Women goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall of racial insults by using a mock Caribbean accent when speaking to her.  The shadow sports minister has called for Clarke and Glenn to go.  The select committee members also said that Dan Ashworth the FA technical director and Rachel Brace (the human resources director) should consider their positions.

The parliamentary Equality and Human Rights Commission warned the FA that its behaviour was not acceptable and the chair of Kick It Out disputed Clarke’s testimony about his own involvement in the Aluko affair, and suggested the FA chairman being recalled by parliament.


Well, it seems that within the FA the feeling seems to be that their only crime was not to show enough acceptance of their ineptitude, and contrition for having done things wrong.   

The Government has refused to call for resignations, and the sum total of government action came in a statement from the  sports minister Tracey Crouch who said, “I hope that the FA learns lessons from this whole sorry saga to ensure that all in the sport and the wider public have faith in their processes and procedures.   We have been clear that we expect world-leading standards of governance from all our national sports governing bodies.”

The Labour spokesperson, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, went a little further saying, “It is clear, the leadership of the Football Association is incapable of dealing with allegations of bullying and racism.

“After hearing the evidence put forward and the lack of accountability shown, I have lost confidence in the FA’s leadership team. The senior leadership team at the FA need to have a long, hard look at themselves and the board need to act quickly and decisively to take the FA in a new direction.”

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Meanwhile the Conservative MP Julian Knight called the FA “an international embarrassment” regularly involved in “monumentally poor decision-making”. The government, he said, such put an official regulator in charge of the FA, just like there is a regulator for digital communications, power supply and the like.

So why is nothing happening?

The problem is that there is a Fifa ruling that if a government interferes in the workings of a country’s top footballing body, then that country will immediately be suspended by Fifa.  It is the ultimate “get out of jail” card for all the multiplicity of crooks and inept old farts who run football across the world.

If the UK government interferes in any way with the FA by removing anyone from power, by forcing reform on the body etc, then the FA and hence England will be suspended from world football.

The general thinking is that the media that spends billions of pounds supporting Fifa each year by buying the rights to international matches would then instantly rise up against the elected government, whip up public opinion (or at least create fake news to make it look as if public opinion had been whipped up) and the government would have to back down, and re-instate the FA.

It is the system that kept the incredibly corrupt Greek FA in power over the years in the midst of wholesale match corruption throughout the entire system of football.  It has been repeated around the world many times.

Of course many of the politicians in the UK parliament who are speaking out about the FA know perfectly well that this is the case, but none will mention it because the government knows that they can bluster and makes all sorts of sounds, but ultimately when they are replaced by the opposition, the new government will be in the same position.

Through this one rule Fifa and all the crooks and all the inept administrators and managers in world football keep their jobs and nothing changes.  No government in a country where football is popular will dare to have Fifa suspend the country from world football.

The power is not with our elected representatives. The power is all with Fifa. True, UK government funds the FA but if the government cut off the funding the FA would simply reduce the pathetically tiny amount of funding that it gives to grass roots football and carry on regardless, blaming the government for all its misfortunes.

In effect, when it comes to football, Fifa, not our elected politicians, rules the day.

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9 comments to Why the government can’t reform the FA, and why the FA will (sadly) survive forever

  • colario

    I appreciate that if the government was to stop funding the F.A., it would mean less money for football’s grass roots.

    However if the government was to expose the shenanigans and ineptitude of the F. A. in social media, even setting in place a website on this matter, inviting all involved to comment that will surely force the F.A to change its head in the sand view of the world and come clean.

    Something I don’t understand if the government is not allowed to interfere in its Football Association then why is our government interfering with the F.A by giving money?

  • Chris


    thanks for the explanations, it makes some things clearer.
    Governement could apply pressure by other means, by changing the environment for example. The German FA has been having it issues. They’ve lost the tax free sttus for the 2006 WC when it became clear corruption and tax dodging had been going on…and thus have millions in taxes to pay. That is one way to wield influence….

    So ok, governement cannot intervene in the innerworkings of the FA without the FA being expelled from FIFA
    What if the FA got expelled ? Would the world stop turning and goals stop being scored ?
    Would soccer matches stop being played, matches not being shown on TV anymore ?
    Maybe a what if scenario would be a an interesting piece, and give perspectives we do not have now ?

    Long live UK Rules football !!!!

    And back to the FA. Who elects these people ? How do they come to their decision ? Who are they representing ?

  • Nitram

    What a depressing read.

    We have a bunch of w***ers in the media. Shite stirring hypocritical self serving idiots.

    We have a bunch of w***ers in the PGMOL. Secretive, incompetent and unaccountable.

    We have a bunch of w***ers in the FA. Corrupt, incompetent, racist and entirely unfit for purpose.

    We have a bunch of w***ers in FIFA. Jeeeez. Were do you even start with this lot?

    I love Arsenal, but honestly I hate almost everything else about football.

  • Jax

    If the FA were to secede from FIFA (and by default UEFA) then all teams with FA membership would immediately be ineligible to play in ANY event organised by the two international organisations. All TV money would disappear along with most of the overseas players currently working in England. No Champions League, No Europa League, no World or Euro Cups. Nothing even between the home nations as they would be banned from playing against us. We could have matches against Isle of Man or Channel Islands teams (I believe), but how much of that would the public put up with?
    The FA could gamble on other major nations following suit to form a powerful breakaway administration (and I suspect English speaking nations would comply), but England don’t have that charisma any more and would probably get the big flip off from most of the big nations FAs.
    As Tony says, we’re at the mercy of FIFA, and until that’s reformed nothing will filter down to the national FA’s.

  • Jax

    The same applies if the FA were to get ejected from FIFA.
    Matches WOULD stop getting played and not much outside of domestic competition would get televised. It would be a disaster, although I can imagine there are some here who might welcome it.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    It’s either a blatant show of incompetence or a delibrate action to cheat Watford by the PGMO referee assistant who didn’t flag for a goal kick for Watford for the ball that was put into touch by Chelsea but ignored it and instead the PGMO match officiating reefree gave Chelsea a corner kick which resulted in Pedro scoring for Chelsea to give them 1-0 lead in the match. What a PGMO linesman officiating blunder that is again calling for the introduction of the VRAs in the PL games as from the begining of the 2nd half of this season and not only in the FA Cup matches as it has been reported.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    The only way to change the FA is from within. Here is a link giving contact details of all of the County FA If you want to change the system, contact your local association and find out how you can become a member. It’s a bit like politics, if you aren’t a member of a party there is nothing you can actually do to change policy.

  • omgarsenal

    Andrew….well done, change comes from within more often than from outside! Here are a few other ideas to solicit change without endangering England’s international status:

    a)The EPL funds the FA so hitting the EPL by supporters’ rotating absences (motivated by FA incompetence) from key matches, would pressure the EPL to apply pressure on the Fa to change.

    b)A publicity campaign run by supporter’s associations and groups to denounce the FA morons at each EPL match (and at lower leagues as well)would bring this issue into public visibility. Protest groups are common at football matches.
    c)Supporters should contact their local MP’s and county football organizers and begin a campaign of e-mails designed to harass them and agitate for real, specific change at the FA level.

    c)These same groups can do the same with FIFA, as we are all technically members of that organisation and have free access to their representatives, etc. If FIFA started to get bad publicity because one of their member country’s FA was so incompetent that it was an embarrassment, then perhaps they might pressure the Fa to change as well.

    This might just start the ball rolling, as we say over the pond!

  • Mark Overmoon

    My limited understanding of the final Blatter downfall was that the FBI leveraged some legal intelligence to basically say: either resign or we’ll do you for xyz. I don’t see why our government’s justice dept. couldn’t do something similar, if indeed they cared, which I doubt!

    Of course this depends on the degree of criminality, but an option maybe? Perhaps I am showing a degree of blue sky nativity here