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Opinion: FIFA stance could spell the end for Home Nations’ Independence

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The position taken by the Scottish and English Football Associations in my opinion, could spell the end of the independence of the Home Nations and FIFA forcing through plans to amalgamate the Home Nations under one Football Association with one vote.

In 2007, the Four Home Nations’ position with FIFA came under attack after 60 years of having the privilege and right to nominate their own FIFA Vice President, and voting rights on the International FA Board, the game’s rule making body.

Currently suspended FIFA Vice President Jack Warner, announced his intention to seek out and end the privileges afforded to the Home Nations with the retirement of David Will after 17 years in the post and who died two years ago.

Warner said at the time: “It does not make any sense, it should be abolished because it is a football anachronism. If I can get support I will bring it up at the FIFA Congress and I will fight to have it abolished. This position should be elected by the UEFA countries. You should not be able to play in the UEFA competitions and then have your own elections outside UEFA. You cannot be half-pregnant. Either you are pregnant or not pregnant.”

Irish FA President Jim Boyce succeeded David Will, but Warner said that whoever won, he should be the last person awarded a four-year FIFA Vice Presidency to the Home Nations.

Warner added: “Whoever gets elected now can of course stay in the post and serve for four years, but after that the situation must change because it is not right.”

It was not the first time that Warner had attempted to change the FIFA statutes, he failed in his attempts three years before as David Will asked the FIFA Executive Committee to vote on the issue, never reaching the Congress.

The late David Will said at the time, “Jack has been talking about this for a long time. Three years ago, Jack was so taken aback by the level of support within the executive committee for our automatic vice-presidency that he withdrew the motion. No-one has seriously questioned the separate identity of the four British countries for a long time, or the role we play in the International Board. Sepp Blatter has always been very supportive of the British position and there is no reason to believe that will not continue.”

However the current allegations of bribery and corruption within the heart of FIFA, which led to the suspension of Executive Committee members Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam, the latter the only contender to Sepp Blatter for the Presidency, caused both the Scottish and English FAs to come out publicly to call on the election to be postponed until a full investigation was conducted and which made ‘any election unworkable’ according to SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan.

The SFA statement read: “The Scottish FA can today confirm its position that the FIFA Presidential election be postponed in light of recent uncertainty. We believe the election should be rescheduled to facilitate a period of consultation to deal with the issues that have arisen in recent weeks. The events of the last two days, in particular, have made any election unworkable. The integrity and reputation of the game across the world is paramount and the Scottish FA urges FIFA to reconsider its intentions, and calls on other member associations to consider the long-term implications for the game’s image.”

While the English FA’s statement from Chairman David Bernstein read: “On 19 May 2011 The Football Association announced it would be abstaining in the forthcoming election for the FIFA Presidency. There were two main reasons for this decision. First, a concern, that a series of allegations relating to FIFA ExCo Members made it difficult to support either candidate. Secondly, a concern about the lack of transparency and accountability within the organisation, contributing to the current unsatisfactory situation.

“Events of the last few days have reinforced our views, and we call on FIFA and ask other national associations to support us with two initiatives.

“First, to postpone the election and give credibility to this process, so any alternative reforming candidate could have the opportunity to stand for President. Secondly, to appoint a genuinely independent external party to make recommendations regarding improved governance and compliance procedures and structures throughout the FIFA decision-making processes for consideration by the full membership.

“This has been a very damaging time for the reputation of FIFA and therefore the whole of football. To improve confidence in the way the game is governed at the very top, we believe these requests would be a positive step forward and the minimum that should take place.”

Despite the two Football Associations publicly raising concerns and calling for the postponement, the presidential election went ahead as planned unsurprisingly and to everyones mock surprise Sepp Blatter was re-elected as FIFA President. A total of 203 votes were cast, 186 voted for the Swiss Generalissimo to be re-elected and 17 either abstained or spoiled their ballot papers.

After being re-elected Blatter said: “We have been hit and I personally have been slapped. We have made mistakes and we will learn from this. I can say to a certain extent that this is a good warning, not just to look into our problems and I am willing to face the public anger in order to serve football.

“I am the captain weathering the storm, this is a difficult period for Fifa and I admit that readily. Not only is the pyramid shaking but our ship has drawn some water. We need someone who will accept this responsibility. I’m willing to do this. And reforms will be made not just touch-ups but radical decisions, the necessary reforms. We must do something because I do not want ever again that we face this undignified situation.”

However despite the Propaganda style show of unity after the re-election, there must be fears within both the SFA and the English FA that Sepp Blatter could now turn and back those previous calls from his one-time friend Jack Warner for the Home Nations to lose their privileged positions. And with Seb Coe and his British Olympic Association cronies pushing through the TEAM GB Football plans, this could provide the excuse for Blatter and his MaFIFA family to force through the amalgamation of the four Home Nations and the removal of their privileged positions.

And this threat to the four nations independence, in regards to the Team GB, is still a major threat given the mixed messages that have emanated from Blatter and FIFA.

In December 2008 Blatter issued a statement: “The executive committee confirmed that the participation in the 2012 London Olympic Games of a single team representing Great Britain would not affect the existing individual status of the four British football associations. We have no problem with that because four British associations are identified in Fifa statutes as being four different entities. And now for the Olympic Games, they have to play in one entity.”

But only three months later in March 2009, SFA President George Peat issued a worrying statement: “Mr Blatter told us at an informal function that, if we agreed to be part of Team GB, our position would be in jeopardy. My immediate reaction was one of surprise. I glanced over at the English table and their two guys, Lord Triesman and Sir David Richards, just looked at each other. David Will, who was Fifa vice-president for 15 years, has always told us on no account to get involved. David Taylor [former SFA Chief Executive]says the same thing. So we’re viewing this as a serious warning.”

So with the SFA and FA publicly failing to stall the Presidential elections, could Sepp Blatter and his cronies now take aim at the Home Nations during their impending ‘Night of the Long Knives’ campaign against those who have publicly slammed Blatter, FIFA and certain Executive Committee members. Not to mention try to prevent the election from taking place. And with overwhelming support for Blatter in the Congress, secured by means that we will leave you to decide on, it would be very hard for the Home Nations Associations to fight off such an action especially if it went to Congress for a vote.

It is just an opinion after all, but worrying all the same.

Oliver at ChangeFIFA had this to say:

“Warner will always take any chance he can to try and damage England so we can all expect him to try and cause trouble amongst the Home Nations. He doesn’t come from a stance of reason, more barely concealed hatred. Any genuine points he does have are clouded to the point where he doesn’t really command the respect of any reasonable minded person. Of course Scotland now comes firmly into the equation after joining England in calling for an election suspension yesterday.

“Scotland and England made the right decision. Warner can try and bully the people of Scotland, but he won’t succeed. For too long England and Scotland have been too friendly, too passive. Now is the time to start fighting back and putting bullies like Warner firmly back in his place. The SFA have made a great start, they now need to follow it through. If they do not just Scotland and England win, but everyone who fears for the future of the game.”

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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