The Last Word: One word sums up the FA – weak

Incompetence is coming home as bungling officials keep making gaffes. Reform at the top is the only way forward

Somewhere deep in the heart of England, sitting unsighted in a disused quarry, is a production line churning out sporting figures. Alas, this is no footballing factory, no playmaking plant, no Messi manufacturer, no Cristiano construction. This belches out babies in blazers, who shake hands instead of rattles, grasp spreadsheets instead of teddies. And on their poor heads is stamped their destination. "FA," it says. "This way up."

And there you were, wondering where these people come from, these faceless, nameless characters who have removed the governing out of governing body. Barely 24 hours go by nowadays – never mind anything so long as a week – without some shambolic whiff emerging from Wembley. England's national sport is not football; the nation is not most naturally suited to the guile and style of the beautiful game. When it comes to producing bungling officials, England is simply without equal. Incompetence is coming home.

Where to start on the patrol of the fault line? The last month is as bad as any. These four weeks should rank with the most embarrassing in the Football Association's near 150-year history, certainly from a PR perspective. Even when they claim the moral high ground – with the corruption claims against Fifa – they find a posse of critics taking justifiable aim. Bizarrely, the good guys are also the hapless guys. It is like the Keystone Kops embarking on a clean-up crusade in Fort Apache The Bronx. It is difficult to be taken seriously when everyone is laughing at you.

Just think, this next week should be a time of immense pride and showcase for the FA, as their gleaming home hosts the Champions' League final, the club match of all club matches. Yet for those unfortunate souls employed to front their press operation, it will predominantly be about damage limitation than gain maximisation. Look around, gulp a breath, there are fires to be put out everywhere. Some small, some big, all destructive. If you spot a PR chap tackling a forest blaze with a B&Q extinguisher, then feel for him. He works for the FA.

Managers being fined for praising referees; tearful 11-year-old girls who are banned from playing with the boys being interviewed by Lorraine Kelly; the wrong names on the FA Cup flags... these are just the nonsensical head-scratchers which point to a deep systemic malaise. Even the politicians, those most hypercritical of mismanagers, feel able to target the organisation. So Hugh Robertson, the sports minister, can call football "the worst governed sport in the country" and everyone nods in agreement. Really, the Government should be hit by a hail of "you what?" whenever they dare pinpoint the spec in sport's eye. They should be told "keep your nose out, until you decide to fund sport properly, until you start to back up your grand statements with deeds". But they aren't and that proves the current state of the FA. One word sums them up: weak.

Weak in curbing any of the Premier League's worst excesses; weak when those Fifa blaggards made their World Cup demands; weak when caving in to Sky's wishes to play Premier League games on FA Cup final day; weak in every facet of the third-party ownership hearing against QPR; weak in each and every disciplinary they bring against managers and players in the futile attempt to uphold their weak Respect campaign. Again, this is not the total of their inadequacy, merely the recent examples, merely the latest indications of an association which plainly isn't working. The reason for repeated failure was written all across the staff survey leaked a few days ago in the Daily Mail.

Too many board members leaving, too many of these board members, in Robertson's words, fulfilling the FA stereotype "of being white, male and late middle-aged" featuring "nobody who has played the game to any reasonable level and no women nor anyone from the ethnic communities". They are out of touch and out of their depth. And so the gaffes go on and the miserable history repeats itself. The FA are desperate for a strong, merciless, respected hand, for a man at the helm who will make those damn turkeys vote for Christmas. Reform at the top is the only way forward.

But it shouldn't be too professionaland definitely not too corporate. As it is there is a gaping divide between the playing class and the ruling class. The relationship is at an all-time low and only integration will fix the problem. They need football men, proper football men, men with football in their brains and hearts. It sounds quaint but it shouldn't be.

Football is big business, but it is essentially football. So much of what the FA do focuses on the bottom line instead of what transpires on the important side of the touchline. It could be worse, they say, they could be Fifa. But hey, in certain respects it's better to be corrupt instead of incompetent.

At least, Blatter's self-interested tribe know what they are doing, however repulsive it may be. Yes, repulsive enough for the FA to refuse to back either Sepp Blatter or the equallydespicable Mohamed Bin Hammam. We can only pray the FA don't mess that up. Shouldn't be too difficult NOT to fill a form in, should it? After all, they haven't ticked any boxes of late. Why start now?

Agree or disagree? Email j.corrigan@independent.co.uk or leave your comment below

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on