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

News
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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 saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss