By Tony Attwood
I believe the argument can be made that football needs to be saved from the powers that currently control football.
And this quite simply is because Fifa, probably the most corrupt organisation of them all, has a rule that says governments and its officers of the law, cannot “interfere” with football. In effect Fifa, a body often shown to be corrupt, tells governments that they must leave the control of football to Fifa, an organisation whose chief has recently fled his own country and settled in Qatar to avoid investigation by his country’s lawmakers into his own corruption.
Several factors flow from this non-interference rule the most important of which is the survival of the status quo. For because governments are told by Fifa not to interfere in football, no one investigates Fifa itself.
Instead, the media is full of talk about bringing in new players, and new managers. But there is rarely any talk about major reforms of the institutions that run football. Organisations like PGMO that runs refereeing, Fifa which alone among sporting bodies still insists on having Russian administrators at its meetings, the Premier League that runs, well, the Premier League, the Football Association that runs the Football Association and so on.
Each organisation runs itself with very little, or often no outside agency looking in to check that it is doing its job properly. They are to a large degree, above the law.
That this continues unchecked is partly the fault of the media that has the view that everything in football should continue to be done the way it is done now – which is by not talking about the need for reform, and by ignoring even the notion that there can be reform. Basically, the message of the media seems to be, “this is how it is, there is no alternative”.
As a result, the workings of the Football Association, Fifa, PGMO and the like are in many regards remain unquestioned. And even when a big scandal or gross incompetence is revealed no one talks about winding up the body in question. So if we take for example the fact that the FA ran the Charity Shield for decades without abiding by even the most basic laws concerning how a charity should be run under English law, and how charitable money should be handled, we can see that the Charities Commission fined the FA, and the FA changed the name of the competition.
But no one investigated how the FA had made such a monumental error. They were just left to carry on.
Likewise, when the FA had the responsibility of running the Euro 2020 final, the match resulted in utter and total chaos with numerous injuries and widespread violence. The independent review into the event called it a “day of national shame”.
But again nothing happened to the FA. It was allowed to investigate itself (conveniently finding that it was not to blame) and then carried on as before.
And yet with proper procedures and scrutiny, both of these events could have been foreseen and avoided. The FA could have asked itself, “isn’t the word charity controlled in the UK in some way?” and before the Euro final could have pondered the thought that normally, people don’t break into a game at Wembley because there are no spare seats, meaning that once inside the ground the person with no seat would be spotted and ejected. For this match there were thousands of spare seats because of the pandemic restrictions. That the FA failed to think “might this not have an impact?” was a matter of gross incompetence, but the FA suffered no consequences.
One could go on with more such questions, which we have often asked before on this site, such as questions about the mere existence of the ultra-secretive PGMO, and why it is that some referees oversee so many more home wins than other referees; issues that have often been raised here before. But no, these questions are not asked by PGMO, the League, or the media that is supposed to hold such bodies to account.
And maybe that’s the point. Maybe the ultimate question is, why does the media refuse to ask questions like that? In short, why does the media fail to hold the bodies that run football, to account?