Sports Letter: Right of opinion

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The Independent Online
Sir: The double standards of those who run the FA and the PFA have been well exposed by their posturing over the trial of Gary Blissett. It was a criminal case: Graham Kelly had every right to attend and express his opinion; even though his opinion as to what constitutes a fair challenge or a piece of downright thuggery is no more valid than anyone else's.

And yet for years Mr Kelly's organisation has punished players for speaking their minds in the media under the charge of 'bringing the game into disrepute'. In most cases those players merely told their stories (OK, juicily and for profit), or expressed an opinion which the FA didn't wish to hear. If there had been any slander or libel it would have been a matter solely for the interested parties, for example, Arsenal versus Michael Thomas.

Similarly, the PFA has just stood back and allowed the FA to indulge itself with this ridiculous rule. And yet, I remember how quickly and forcefully the PFA threatened action when a slice of the BSkyB cake was at issue - and won. But then it was a matter of money.

Perhaps the next time the FA abuses its authority the PFA might take up the cause of its members, preferably in a court of law. I for one would love to read a real judge's opinion of a 'football court' - as it acts in restraint of trade, handing out bans for words not spoken on the pitch. I would also like to hear Graham Kelly's conment on someone else's right to give an opinion.

Yours sincerely,