By Tony Attwood
Normally the answer is “the fans” – and that particularly so at a time of increased disorder. Indeed I see that the media has been having a go at the children who booed the England players while they were taking the knee for the game against Hungary. (Adults without children were not permitted for that match following previous problems with Hungarian supporters).
But to go back to the previous problems at Wembley, the headline Wembley faced ‘unprecedented’ public disorder at Euro final … was the general position taken by the media. It was the fans to blame, not the organisation.
However as we have seen, for the difficulties experienced at the Champions League final, this time it was the authorities that were to blame, not the fans – at least according to the media.
So, in England, a mass invasion of the stadium was the fans fault, in France a non-entry to the stadium was the authority’s fault at the stadium.
Thus far Uefa have got off rather easily. Again, when Manchester City won their appeal at CAS against their two year ban from the Champions League on the technicality that the Uefa appeal was out of time, no one really wanted to blame Uefa.
But I wonder if things are changing as the Guardian is now suggesting that “Serious concerns were raised about Uefa’s safety and security department earlier this year when an English safety expert with decades of experience quit his role as a consultant for European football’s governing body.”
This was Steve Frosdick who “resigned from his Uefa consultancy in February, after 11 years in which he was employed to enhance its expertise, incident monitoring, and development and training programmes.”
The Guardian stated that, “Frosdick is said to have believed that Uefa’s professionalism, expertise and development were being undermined, and he rejected a proposal to revise his contract, that would have downgraded his role.”
Of course it is not just the Guardian that is raising the question of Uefa’s competence, for the Telegraph joined in with Uefa got away with it thanks only to fans staying calm – the system in Paris failed.
However, there is a further point to consider here. If Uefa is considered culpable for the problems at the games recently, who is to investigate Uefa? And what punishment can Uefa be given?
In fact, because of the way football is set up, there is no one to investigate them. They, like Fifa and the FA are completely independent of any oversight or regulation. With the FA this was shown in no uncertain manner during the long-running scandal of child abuse in the English game where the FA, and Football League had both clearly let the atrocious behaviour of some individuals be hidden at certain clubs, and yet done nothing about it.
There is in fact no over-arching control of the bodies who proclaim themselves supreme in football in England, across Europe and across the world. If Uefa fails to do its job, who can deal with Uefa?
The ultimate answer is the civil authorities – the courts in fact. But Fifa regulations say that if the courts interfere with football in one of its member countries, that country is to be ejected from Fifa, until the courts learn to stay in their place!
That football should constantly demand that it is above the law, and able to sort out its own problems, when it quite clearly isn’t, really does tell us a lot about the way people who run football see the world.
Even the final arbiter in sport (the CAS) is itself populated by people with dubious pasts – as our recent article “Chair of Court for Arbitration in Sports admits giving bribes” revealed.
If the media found this lack of proper accountability to be a matter of concern we might get somewhere but their collusion with the authorities by refusing in the past ever to blame them for anything means that nothing is ever improved, and indeed nothing is ever done.
There was of course one notable exception to the lack of accountability and that came in 2002, when the Charity Commission in England found that the Football Association had failed to meet its legal obligations under charity law, by failing to specify what money from ticket sales of the Charity Shield went to charity, and delaying payments to the charities nominated. This was an incredibly serious offence, and yet the FA simply shrugged their collective shoulders, renamed their competition the Community Shield and everyone forgot about the offence.
This is the problem we are facing. The organisations that run football – Fifa, Uefa, the FA are never held to account.
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