Sir Dave Richards, the embattled chairman of the Premier League, yesterday emailed Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, respectively presidents of Fifa and Uefa, to apologise for saying the world and European governing bodies had "stolen" the game from England.
Neither Fifa nor Uefa made any public response – Blatter was yesterday en route to Brazil to meet the country's president for discussions over the 2014 World Cup and recent rows over its preparations. Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein, a Fifa vice-president present when Richards made his remarks, did release a statement in which he pointedly suggested football "is a sport for the world."
Richards and Prince Ali had exchanged words over the origins of the game during a conference in Qatar on Wednesday. Yesterday's response from the head of the Jordanian Football Association highlighted his "great relationship with the FA and chairman David Bernstein." It went on: "I have total respect for the FA and English football." But notably the statement said nothing similar about Richards.
As chairman of the Premier League, Richards is on the FA's board. He has held the job since 1999 is due to stand down in October 2013 when he turns 70. However, the chairman is elected annually in June and although Richards has never been challenged, it remains to be seen whether the chairmen of the 20 clubs will seek change. His remarks will have done nothing to improve the rest of the world's view of England's place in today's game. The British entitlement to a permanent Fifa vice-presidency is already under threat. Yesterday Jim Boyce, the Northern Irishman who is the incumbent, said: "It would have been better if Sir Dave's remarks had not been made."
Richards suggested it was his Yorkshire roots that got him into trouble. He said: "I am a Yorkshireman and I am quite broad. I used a word which was, looking back, probably inappropriate but it is the way I am."