Football: FA's code of conduct completely toothless

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The Independent Online
THE FOOTBALL Association has unveiled a new draft code of conduct designed to be a "benchmark for behaviour" in the game - yet admit that there are no powers to enforce it.

The code, meant to be adhered to be everyone in the game, was drawn up in the wake of Sir John Smith's report to the FA into the values, finances and reputation of football.

Several developments are already being put in place:

A compliance officer will be appointed within two months to oversee issues of financial irregularities, drug abuse, racism and violent play, with a shortlist of 10 lawyers, police officers and people with a criminal justice background drawn up.

Disciplinary processes will be modernised to tighten up disciplinary laws so that challenges such as Tottenham's to their initial 12-point penalty a few years ago cannot reoccur, as well as ensuring that players can be summoned to the FA to assist with inquiries.

A financial advisory unit is also being established to give information to clubs.

Following on from those announcements, the FA yesterday published the terms of its draft code of conduct as the fourth plank of Sir John's recommendations.

It calls for football to take community feeling into account when making decisions, to set a positive example to young people, to wipe out corruption and to reject violence and discrimination. Yet the code is only meant to run alongside existing disciplinary rules which can lead to misconduct hearings, a sort of highway code of do's and don'ts and there are no penalties for breaking it.

The FA company secretary, Nick Coward, said: "Sir John identified the lack of a statement of aspirations for the game, the lack of an ethical football policy. This is a set of values for people that they should have regard to when making decisions. We are dealing with the grey areas."

However, the bottom line is that even if Manchester United's proposed takeover by BSkyB was found to contradict the statement on community feeling, nothing could happen. Toothless is then a fair description.