By Tony Attwood
Now you will know, if you have been paying attention that Untold is critical of the English media for not paying attention to the machinations of Fifa and Uefa, and adopting a position of allegiance with those two organisations against the one set of reform proposals that are out there: the Super League.
That hasn’t changed today but it looks as if suddenly they have at least moved from deep sleep into slumber, as the Guardian is running the headline “FA backed Ceferin for Uefa re-election weeks after final chaos in Paris”
To which we might say, “Err, yes guys, that is part of the point.” The FA avoided heavy criticism and removal of future fixtures after the disaster of the Euro Final at Wembley where security was so bad that it could not stop thousands of ticketless fans from storming the ground and gaining admission.
The fact is that it wasn’t just the Champions League final in Paris that was chaos, it was also the Euros final (although of course the media is still conveniently forgetting that). The deal worked both ways. Uefa ignored Wembley’s disaster, and also Paris’ disaster.
And because of that deal which let the FA off the hook over the Euros final the FA is reported as saying that “Ceferin’s track record shows suitability as president.” And yes from an FA point of view it does. Screw up as much as you like, and Cerferin doesn’t mind.
So the Guardian says, “The Football Association gave official support for Aleksander Ceferin to be re-elected Uefa president and sent a written endorsement, just three weeks after Uefa’s catastrophic organisation of the Champions League final in May. Senior FA officials including the chair, Debbie Hewitt, were at the final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France, where Liverpool supporters suffered crushing and violent policing, then were falsely blamed by Uefa.”
But there is not a word about the fact that Uefa gave official support to the English FA after its disastrous holding of the Europa finals at Wembley when tens of thousands of ticketless fans invaded the ground.
And this for the constant reason: In football, everything is always one incumbent helping another. And if one stays silent, most of the time so will the British media.
Athough maybe at last there is a wake up. For the Guardian has just found out that after the disaster of the Liverpool final in Paris, the FA chief executive, Mark Bullingham, “wrote to the board of English football’s governing body, asking its members to endorse Ceferin formally for re-election. Hewitt and the board agreed, and the FA wrote to Uefa giving its official backing. The FA did not make this public then, nor in the eight months since, until the organisation confirmed it when asked by the Guardian this week.”
OK, I know Untold Arsenal is one little blog (well, a little blog with quite a few readers actually, but little in terms of our resources) but for goodness sake, if we can put 2 and 2 together, why can’t the media at large?
There is an interesting comment from the Guardian which says that Joe Blott the chair of Spirit of Shankly, said, “It was always clear that Uefa and the French authorities were to blame for the entirely avoidable problems in Paris. For nearly nine months, supporters were proactively promoting the truth and seeking justice, yet the FA chose to remain silent.”
But what I don’t get is why these people cannot relate this issue back to the silence that followed the disaster of the Euro final at Wembley in 2020. Did they think the rest of Europe didn’t notice? Did they think the rest of Europe was not out there demanding that England never be allowed to host another major final?
And yet Uefa remained unmoved. The FA had to buy its favour back, and the way it was done was with a vote for what the Guardian calls “Ceferin and his clearly dysfunctional organisation”.
For me, the greatest problem that we face is the naivety of some supporters and the willingness of the media in general, to go along with the standard line that one must never blame the FA.
Indeed, I can only say that there were gasps as we read the statement in the Guardian piece that says, “After the final, concerns were raised about alleged cronyism at Uefa, particularly in relation to the 2021 appointment of Ceferin’s close friend Zeljko Pavlica to head the safety and security unit.”
Come on guys – this is what it is all about – at Fifa and Uefa. We’ve been telling you this for years. I know we’re just a blog, but really, you could read Untold just once in a while.
But now The Guardian has “reported on four further appointments of people with close ties to Ceferin in his home country of Slovenia, who had been appointed to senior Uefa positions, and criticisms from former Uefa administrators who had left citing concerns.”
So they knew. That’s a start.
At least the Guardian piece gets one bit right, saying, “The FA is perceived by many to have been seeking favour from Ceferin and Uefa, largely to build relationships and because it is bidding to co-host the 2028 European Championship. In October Hewitt was put forward to be Uefa’s representative as a Fifa vice-president, a position that comes with a $300,000 remuneration on top of her FA salary, for which she needs votes from European FAs and would therefore benefit from Uefa support.”
There is a solution and it is simple. Wind up the FA. Pull out of Uefa and Fifa. Then invite the rest of the world to join in a reformed structure for football. And this time make it work.
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