The Last Word: Here's why we are part of the problem
While the UK associations wield so much power they, and the game of football, will be the losers
When Fifa are eventually reformed, some time before the next Ice Age, the football associations of the home nations will have a difficult concession to make. But be made it must. Otherwise they will be complicit in ensuring that part of the broken apparatus which fostered corruption remains in operation.
Ifab. They sound like a new invention from Apple, but they are, as Wikipedia informs us, "the body which determines the Laws of the Game of Association Football". As the clamour to implement technology intensifies we will be hearing plenty about Ifab. The International Football Association Board set the rules by which the game is expectedto retain its beauty, so they should also stand for the entire footballing family. Ifab will claim they do. But that's all they can do – claim. Because their constitution is as undemocratic as it is archaic.
Ah, but that's Fifa for you, or so the whinge will go. It's not. That's the FA, the SFA, the FAW and the IFA for you, as well. Together with Fifa themselves, they form Ifab. Scandalously, Ifab deem that when it comes to changing the laws, a footballing behemoth such as Brazil has 1/51st of the rights of say, Northern Ireland. And we wonder why the rest of football doesn't like us.
The maths is simple, if perverse. Each of the UK associations have one vote each, while Fifa have four votes to represent the other 204 member associations. When it comes to introducing goal-line technology, as it seems they now will, there will have to be at least six votes out of the eight on Ifab to pass the motion. Basically,if Fifa don't want it they can block it and, if between them, the UK associations don't want it, so can they. And therein is the problem.
The dangers of such a small group making big decisions are obvious. Self-interest will inevitably influence the voting, as will divisions and alliances. And in all this politics the critical matter of what is right and wrong will sometimes be sacrificed. Nobody is saying Ifab can be bought in the manner of the Fifa Executive Committee. Yet their focus can be accused of being just as narrow.
Why shouldn't Italy, Germany, Argentina, Spain or indeed any of the other member organisations have the same voting powers as Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or even England? The answer – as answers to questions of privilege always do – lies in history.
We invented the game, so we deserve to have a bigger say on its rules. That's essentially the pretence of Ifab. The body, which originally consisted of the four UK associations, pre-dates Fifa by almost two decades. Indeed, this is Ifab's 125th anniversary. Eventually the two linked up, but it wasn't until 1958 that Fifa were granted four votes instead of one. And for the past 53 years, the UK associations have been clinging on to this power.
Let's face it, Ifab are deeply arrogant. Just because the game was formed in the UK doesn't give us the right, more than 120 years on, still to lord over the rules like a belligerent monarchy controlling its parliament. It's little wonder the other countries and the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, look at us and mutter, "Who the hell do they think are?". We don't own the game, yet so much of our attitude says we believe we do. Undoubtedly there were many factors why England didn't win last year's World Cup bid and some of them were despicable. Yet surely it is undeniable that the entitled image projected by the English did the campaign no favours. To many members of Fifa, the Empire is alive and well in the form of Ifab.
So why don't our associations do something on that moral high ground they have been so keen to populate of late and offer to scrap Ifab? Look no further than the paranoia to maintain their own individualities. Lose Ifab and the Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish fear it will be more likely they will lose their status – one UK, one vote.
And so the UK, however much it moans about the sickening flaws of Fifa, will be submerged in the filth. In the new Fifa, our associations' rights to be recognised on their own would be enshrined and there wouldn't be the need to preserve Ifab in all its absurdity. Except how will that day arrive without the status quo being obliterated? The English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish should ask themselves that question, because until they do they will remain part of the problem. It doesn't take Hawk-Eye to spot this particular injustice.
No Coe, you just can't back Dow now
What is it about Britain and pompous former sports stars who graduate to the high offices of sporting officialdom and once there can't admit their errors? For Rob Andrew read Lord Coe – but do so at your peril.
As the 2012 London Olympics draw ever nearer, the Lord's name shall not be taken in vain. After all, it is because of him Britain landed the Games (evenif his tear-jerking speech of a sporting legacy for our schoolchildren inevitably turned out to be the biggest sales-pitch baloney since Arthur Daley flogged those solar-powered torches). He can do no wrong, even if he does do wrong.
Coe plainly is wrong in backing Dow, the chemical firm whose£7 million sponsorship of the Games has raised the prospectof an Indian boycott.
In 2001, Dow bought Union Carbide, whose subsidiary owned a pesticide plant which in 1984 leaked poisonous gas in Bhopal, India, causing an estimated death toll of 15,000, as well as cancers, deformities and other illnesses for years to come. It is estimated that over half a million people have suffered sickness or injury as a result of the disaster.
Coe says the timescale excuses Dow of any culpability, as does the fact the settlement of family claims was made in 1989. Another excuse is that the International Olympic Committee have Dow as one of their sponsors.
But there are still ongoing court battles and many people in India are grossly offended.
Amazing, isn't it? The British Olympic Committee take a stand against the IOC when it comes to life bans against drug-takers,but won't when it comes to promoting the business activities of companies linked to tragedies. Well, wouldn't you know it...
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