Why football needs an independent regulator now.

By Tony Attwood

Last September The Spectator magazine (not a publication that normally deals with football) ran the article Why football needs a regulator.

In was the first major uptake on a series we started in March last year and ran through three articles…

But nothing has happened.  There is no regulator, and no sign of a regulator, although there is another court case pending that might just bring the whole issue to centre stage in a short while.

Meanwhile, according to an article in the Telegraph, (FA investigate alleged homophobic chants aimed at Chelsea fans) there will be an investigation by the FA into the behaviour of Manchester City fans during the second half of their win against Chelsea.

Meanwhile, there is also an onging FA investigation into chanting at Old Trafford during the Manchester United match against Everton.

What is missing throughout however is the asking of the question: is it really ok for the FA, an organisation with multiple failures at its heart (child sex abuse, Uefa cup final etc) to investigate itself in all these matters?

It is a question we have asked time and again (see links at the end of the article).  Why is football allowed to regulate itself?  After all, football has a terrible record: child sex abuse, flagrant discrimination against women, life changing injuries, abuse of power on an international scale.  If you want to read more try FA did not do enough to keep children safe.

True, as a report from the news agency Reuters shows, clubs have a “zero-tolerance policy on all forms of discrimination” and abuse.  But it happens time and again.

Thus ‘Rainbow Devils’, a Manchester United LGBTQ+ supporters group, recently condemned “the illegal and homophobic chant from a section of our fans and call for the club to take action.”

But just how slowly (if at all) matters are progressing can be seen from the headline FA to investigate allegations of ‘Isis’ chants by Sheffield United …That was over seven years ago.  Last year we had the headline Uefa begins investigation into chant after Republic of Ireland Women’s World Cup play-off win.

And what happens?  Whatever it is, it is clearly not enough to have any effect.  And yet football goes on, over and over and over claiming that it can regulate itself.  Just one look at the FA, Uefa and Fifa should be enough to tell everyone this is simply not true.

Homophobic chants were heard during Chelsea’s draw with Nottingham Forest and as a result, Chelsea’s LGBT+ supporters group called on the Football Association to act.  That was reported at the start of this year.   Nothing happened.

And when there is action, it is pathetic.  Two Southampton fans were banned for homophobic chanting in the match against Brighton.   Two???

So why can’t the FA and the League deal with homophobic chanting once and for all? 

Certainly, fines won’t do any good against Premier League teams because they are bursting with money.  But, the one thing that would have an impact on clubs would be a points deduction.  If all Premier League clubs had to install direction-specific microphones across the ground and have an independent assessor (not the club, not the FA) investigate all allegations of inappropriate chanting then we might make progress.  Five points to be deducted from the team for every case of homophobic, racist or anti-Semitic chanting from its supporters captured by microphones would certainly make the clubs wake up.

Now I just thought up that approach in one minute while writing this article.  Surely the boffins in the Premier League could think up something like this if they really wanted to.  After all there are a lot of them, and just me sitting here typing this blog.

So why don’t they act?   That surely is the most interesting question of all.   Why do the Premier League clubs not introduce their own system to stop unacceptable chanting? 

The answer must be that no one is pushing them, and again we are back to the fact that there is no independent regulator of football.   This was the problem with child sex abuse in football, and maybe the next legal case (which will happen soon although I can’t write about it yet) will finally be the one that reveals just how awful the football system in England is.  (Although to be fair I can’t see how anyone with a mind, didn’t know that already following the child sex abuse in football scandal).

So here’s the question now: why are the forces of football so against the notion of an independent regulator that they are doing everything in their power to stop this happening?  That really is the big question.

One Reply to “Why football needs an independent regulator now.”

  1. Football certainly needs an independent body to scrutinise refereeing, PGMOL, VAR, and the FA’s disciplinary procedures. Today’s announcement that Arsenal have been charged yet again would certainly indicate the presence of bias or corruption within at least one of these jigsaw pieces.

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