By Tony Attwood
I see that there is to be a match between Real Madrid Legends and Arsenal Legends. It is apparently the ninth edition of the Corazón Classic Match, which is described as a charitable game played with the proceeds aimed at helping children in need. This is organised by the Real Madrid Foundation and will take place at the Bernabéu on June 3.
Which is fine, and I hope it raises a lot of money that goes to help children in need. And if I come across as a total cynic at this point, well, I shall be delighted to be proven wrong.
But two things worry me.
First in 2016 Fifa banned Real Madrid from registering new signings for two transfer windows (reduced to one on appeal to CAS) as punishment for breaching its rules on the international transfer and registration of players aged under 18.
One does not normally expect organisations that have been convicted of such rule breaches to continue to be involved in matters in the same area with its charity work – at least not unless they have expressed deep resource and promised not to do it again. We do not expect Crewe Alexandra to be involved with any activities involving children, for example, when they can’t even have an enquiry into what happened at the club over year after year after year.
Real Madrid’s crimes may never have been as great as Crewe’s (Crewe being one of many clubs that failed to protect youngsters from predatory child abusers) but Real Madrid has never showed any remorse. Indeed after their appeal against their sentence the club’s official statement said, “The decision [of the appeal panel] highlights the injustice of the original ban imposed by Fifa, although the club regrets the Cas lacked the courage to revoke the ruling entirely.”
Real Madrid were fined 360,000 Swiss francs (£249,000 at the time) and banned from making transfers for one transfer window.
The Fifa statement at the time said Real Madrid “were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of minor players as well as other relevant provisions with regard to the registration and participation of certain players in competitions.”
The Fifa statement later added: “The investigations concerned minor players who were involved and participated in competitions with the clubs over various periods between… 2005 and 2014.” In other words nine years of breaking the rules involving under age players. Real described the decision of Fifa and the Court of Arbitration at the time as both “absolutely unacceptable”.
But despite all this maybe Real Madrid are now fit and proper people to deal with children and raise money for children.
However given that we have never had any answers at all as to what happened to the money that people gave the FA for its “Community Shield” game of Arsenal against Chelsea, with the money from the match, and money donated by those attending the game, supposedly going to the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster, I remain cynical as to what happens to money raised at any of these charity games.
In the case of the FA all it needs is for the FA to put an article on its website saying how much was raised and where it went.
There is an article of this nature on the FA Site at http://www.thefa.com/competitions/the-fa-community-shield/more/where-the-money-goes
That is worth reading as it tells us that “The 2006 FA Community Shield sponsored by McDonald’s raised £880,000 and each of the 124 clubs who competed in The FA Cup from the First Round onwards received £5,000 to donate to up to three local charities or community-based projects of their choice.
“One of those clubs, Chippenham Town FC, who went out of the 2005-06 Competition in the First Round to Worcester City, chose The Doorway Project as one of two local charities to receive £2,500.”
And yes that is not a misprint. It is 2006. Not even 2016. There is nothing about the money raised since.
Quite why the FA refuse to put up details of its engagement with the community suffering from the Grenfell Tower disaster is not revealed. Nor is it a subject that is being raised on any of our national media. Nor will the FA answer my enquires. But then the national media always give the FA an easy ride. One can only speculate why.
Forgive me if i remain cynical about all football engagement with helping people unless a) the club has a clean bill of health over the issue and b) the organisers make public totally clear statements about how much was raised and where it went. And if it is argued that I would thus deprive children of some support I would say no, I do not seek to do that. I only say if one has nothing to hide, come out and reveal that.
And perhaps we should also remember that the only reason the season opener is called the Community Shield and not the Charity Shield as it used to be called, is that the Charity Commission which controls charities in the UK, revoked the licence of the FA to call the match the Charity Shield in 2002 – because of the breach of multiple rules. At that time the enquiry found that 35% of the money raised did go to charities – but only 35%, and that the FA were not following even the most basic rules that other charities with far less in the way of resources, did follow.
The FA then had the choice to change its procedures so that it, like thousands of other organisations, complied with legally binding rules, but instead it chose to stop using the word “charity” and shut down any attempt to give any information about the money raised and its use.
To put it simply, the basic problem highlighted in 2002 was that fans were not told how the money available for charities would be calculated and distributed. That is still the same problem today 16 years later.
Forgive me if I appear cynical about such charitable events involving either Real Madrid or the FA.
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