UK hands back FIFA position
29 May 2013, 10:26
Port Louis - Britain's once-untouchable position on FIFA's executive
committee will be swept away after 67 years at this week's reform-driven
congress of world soccer's governing body.
England, and to a lesser
extent Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, have had a love-hate
relationship with FIFA from the time it was formed in 1904 and none of
them were among the founding fathers.
This has been due partly to
the permanent vice-president's seat on the executive committee that
Britain enjoys, but that seat is to be handed back at the congress in
The affable Jim Boyce of Northern Ireland will be the last British vice-president and he is not unhappy about the change.
time has come, it was a bit of an anachronism, but I do not think our
influence will be diminished in the slightest," he said.
six vice-presidents and the removal of the British one should go some
way to placating nations who have long regarded Britain, and the English
in particular, with suspicion.
The English Football Association,
the world's first, was founded in 1863, some 41 years before FIFA, and
is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
associations collectively dismissed the idea of joining FIFA at the
outset and the repercussions of this aloofness still resonate to this
Two years ago at the congress in Zurich, FIFA vice-president
Julio Grondona of Argentina called the English "pirates" after they
attempted to delay the election of Sepp Blatter as president for a
A number of delegates took the floor to berate the
English for suggesting the vote should be delayed because Blatter was
standing unopposed in the wake of Qatari Mohamed Bin Hamman's withdrawal
from the presidential race.
The guaranteed vice-presidency
was written into the statutes in 1946 when the four nations rejoined
FIFA after they had left in the 1920s in a row over players' payments.
returned in the immediate aftermath of World War II when Stanley Rous,
then general secretary of the English FA and later the president of
FIFA, promised the impoverished world governing body all the gate
receipts from a Britain v Rest of the World match in Glasgow.
That helped put FIFA back on its financial feet and, in return, Britain were handed the seat.
Boyce, English FA chief executive Alex Horne is not upset over the
handing back of the seat. "It is perhaps a long overdue move and we are
happy about it happening," Horne told Reuters.
"What is far more important to us now, is that we continue to have a major influence in the International Board.
are also other positives in handing over the British vice-presidency to
a European representative through which we still hope to have a say on
the top table."
In other words, the British nations will continue,
along with FIFA, to keep a controlling hand on the laws of the game
that was invented and nurtured in Britain through the International
Football Association Board (IFAB).
The seat's return is one of a
number of changes that will become part of a new FIFA statute book being
written once the dust has settled after the Congress on this tropical
Indian Ocean island.
Something that will not change is England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continuing as four separate nations.
Asian and African nations are unhappy about that but, as Blatter says
when challenged on the matter: "That is not up for discussion and, as
far as FIFA is concerned, it never will be."