What would happen if England quitFifa? What would happen if the Football Association (founded 1863) told the International Federation of Association Football (founded 1903) they would no longer recognise the latter's new-fangled powers and play their ever-mangled politics? What would happen if the FA chairman stood in the shadow of the Wembley Arch and announced: "We've returned our membership card, cancelled our direct debit – we're going it alone"?
The reaction would be extraordinary, as would be the fallout. Immediately Uefa, the European governing body, would announce they had expelled the FA and that English teams would henceforth be eliminated from all European competitions. In an emergency conference call, Michel Platini, Uefa's president, would assure his Fifa counterpart, Sepp Blatter, that the Premier League would force the FA to backtrack.
"Manchester United and Chelsea will never stand for it," Platini would claim. "And, more importantly, neither will Sky."
Yet say this was a co-ordinated strike. Say the FA had sat down with Richard Scudamore, the Premier League's chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Sky, Manchester United's Glazer family and all the other owners (yes, including Roman Abramovich), and Gordon Taylor of the players' union and somehow garnered their support. Say the FA had convinced them to play the long game; to take the short-term hit to both their finances and their ambitions for the greater cause. Say for one time only English football could form a united front and with one collective hand raise two collective fingers. What would Fifa do then?
They would try to carry on regardless. Blatter would articulate what Fifa have always felt – that England were arrogant, shameless, above-their-station. "Just because they invented the game they think they should rule it," Sepp would huff. "Well, football can do without them."
Then, in his one critical show of power, Blatter would call the 207 member associations together and tell them to instruct their pros not to play in the English Leagues.
This sorry mess would end up in the courts, of course. Some of the pros would try to rip up their contracts, others would issue "restriction of trade" claims; yet all the while the cracks would widen in the Fifa façade. Publicly the other European footballing superpowers would condemn the English, but behind closed doors frenzied talks would take place. Slowly it would dawn that the Champions' League is nothing without the Premier League.
However, the Premier League would feel they could still be something without the Champions' League. Economically the sums wouldn't work, but emotionally everything would add up. Supporters would be delighted to discover that football did indeed possess a soul, and attendances would soar. Little things would make the difference. Video technology – which the FA would now be free to implement – would be ecstatically welcomed and across the Channel peoplewould take notice. In Madrid, Barc-elona, Milan, Turin, Munich, Paris, Istanbul... It would not be too long before a Uefa EGM was convened. And there would lie the endgame.
The 53 associations would pass a vote of no confidence in their executive and England would be invited to rejoin. The FA would graciously accept, and over in Zurich the phones would fly off the walls. Fifa would be cornered, there would be nowhere to run. Within hours Blatter would resign, and within a few more weeks Uefa would take control. They would proceed to wash the dirty Fifa linen in public and the public would be amazed at the grime. All the secrets would emerge – bribery, collusion, intimidation.
The apparatus would duly be dismantled and then rebuilt, with overlords such as Jack Warner seeingtheir ridiculous powerbases divided and thus weakened. Fifa would take the lead of the International Olympic committee and increase the numbers on the executive committee from the absurd 24. The bigger the vote, the less easy it is to fix. Everything about Fifa and everyone in Fifa would suddenly be accountable.
But what of the World Cup? Well, as Fifa are essentially only the World Cup that would, of course, be revolutionised. Straight away, Qatar would be stripped of the 2022 finals and have their vast expenses repaid.
The bidding process would begin again, this time unfailingly transparent. Candidates would only be allowed a £1 million bidding budget and yes, this would include paying for the technical visits of Fifa. There will be no fancy restaurants, no schmoozing, no friendlies arranged between would-be hosts and voting nations. Furthermore, Fifa would not ask governments for their own tax-break guarantees, but would instead ask for guarantees ensuring the profits were ploughed back into sport.
All this might sound like some middle-aged fantasy, but it would be eminently possible. All it would take would be for organisations as strong as the FA and the Premier League to agree to make the stand.
Why should the Premier League, when their own applecart is rolling along quite happily? What would be in it for the FA? Well, at the very least, in the new world England would have a chance of hosting a World Cup, and if it did then the Premier and FA brands would be immeasurably stronger.
But looking deeper, football would be diverted from its seemingly inexorable pursuit into the moral abyss. The disgrace of Qatar, if not of Russia,has caused the rumblings to rise to the surface. They will be ignored at the game's peril.Reuse content