Sam Wallace: English football must look to put its own house in order and set an example to all at Fifa

Talking Football: One of the ExCo's few legitimate criticisms of the FA was that it was hard to deal with a body without a chief executive or chairman, after they had both quit

The final indignity for the 2018 bid team on Friday came when their flight home from Zurich was cancelled. They were re-booked on to another, which meant that a few people who had not seen an economy seat in a long time had to sit in steerage with the rest of us.

Fabio Capello occupied himself with the "sudoku difficile" in the Corriere della Sera. David Dein tried to keep spirits up despite having had about three hours' sleep in the previous 48. Roger Burden reflected on how the last day had changed forever how he felt about football and his ambitions to be chairman of the Football Association.

As we stood at the luggage carousel, one of the senior members of the 2018 bid, a good man with an enviable ability to stay cheerful in the most difficult times, said to me: "You know what I will remember about this in years to come? That for a short period of time, even if it was just a few days, we managed to unite the whole of English football behind this bid. That was a good thing."

That comment sticks in my mind as I reflect on what has been an appalling week for English football at the end of a dreadful year for the FA. For a few days last week, during that giddy time when we naively thought that the Fifa executive committee (ExCo) might give us the World Cup, we barely stopped to notice that the whole of English football was pulling together.

The Premier League, the Football Association, the Football League, the clubs, the players and the managers – like Arsène Wenger and Harry Redknapp, who cannot stand one another but who both made memorable contributions to the bid's key promotional video – all stepped up to the mark.

The grassroots of football were represented too, most notably in the performance of Eddie Afekafe, but also in the way that the host cities – from London, Manchester and Liverpool to Plymouth and Milton Keynes – harnessed the enthusiasm and creativity of English people to show what a World Cup would mean to England.

They pulled together. Then we lost. So what now? Do we just forget that, for a while, Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of the Premier League, Lord Mawhinney, the former Football League chairman, the FA and the government were on the same side – and go back to the usual bickering?

In the aftermath of Russia's victory, there was much talk about how Fifa had to reform, about how concentrating all the power into the hands of 24 (currently 22) ExCo men, with their private agendas, alliances and grudges, was no way to decide the host of a World Cup. Undoubtedly, that is the case – but there is a problem.

How can English football tell Fifa to reform when it has so many internal rifts itself? It places itself in a very weak position to call for change on the ExCo – a faint hope at best, anyway – when the FA and the Premier League themselves have been at loggerheads so many times.

The ExCo's flaws are different to that of English football – not least the dark mutterings about how they were "persuaded" to give a World Cup to a tiny emirate with no football culture and 45-degree-plus summers – but it does behove English football to put its own house in order as it demands others do the same.

One of the few legitimate criticisms the ExCo made of the FA over the last year was that it was difficult to deal with an organisation without a chief executive or chairman, who both quit in the space of two months. Burden was forced to visit Michel Platini, the Uefa president, to explain the FA's power structure under his temporary stewardship.

The process to appoint a new FA chairman should be completed by the end of the month and the new FA chairman comes into English football at a pivotal time. What he does in the next five years could contribute to changing our game monumentally for the better.

Thursday's vote and the recriminations in the aftermath were clearly a Suez moment for English football. But what next? Does the game go on producing fewer and fewer good young English players? Does the success of the elite clubs feel even further removed from the failures of our national team?

The new FA chairman cannot afford to go to war with the Premier League in the way that his predecessor, Lord Triesman, once did. Equally, he cannot allow FA board meetings to be dominated by Dave Richards' strops. He must not permit his 147-year-old organisation to slip into irrelevance.

The new chairman must fight to appoint a strong FA executive – which means a chief executive and specialist directors who are not buffeted by every mood from the professional and amateur elements that make up the FA board.

It has to be an executive that takes soundings but ultimately makes decisions of its own. One that has expertise in financial, commercial and television rights matters and that can be the recognisable faces of English football in Uefa, Fifa and across the world. An executive that is not slave to the thousand different voices at the FA.

It is a big challenge but, as last week proved, it is not impossible. And a well-run, successful, united English football would be the best possible rebuke to the self-interest and greed of Fifa.

Platini should play by his own rules and reveal his vote

Uefa president Michel Platini has always been big on transparency, especially when it comes to the finances of English football clubs. So, as the president of our federation, it is inconceivable that he would not want to tell us who he voted for as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals.

If, as has been suggested, he voted for Qatar for 2022 then that really is an extraordinary state of affairs for a man who has insisted that clubs should not buy success. If, on top of that, he was asked to do so by Nicolas Sarkozy, he should tell us how else the French president might have advised him in his capacity as Uefa president.

Discontent at City appears a case of smoke and fire

This column has long been a keen collector of the time-honoured, and by no means unconvincing, stock excuse that clubs give for a public ruck between their players and/or manager. It normally takes, roughly speaking, the following form: "There's nothing to worry about. It's just our players showing their great passion for the club to succeed."

Manchester City have now used this excuse twice in two days – Balotelli/Boateng and Tevez/Mancini – and I have lost count of the number of reliably sourced "Adebayor training-ground bust-up" stories I have read this season. City continue to tell us that their competitive spirit floweth over. Or could it just be that a lot of people there don't like one another?

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities