ZURICH: The latest round in what is being labelled ‘Britain v The World’ went ahead today at FIFA headquarters in Zurich without any British representative being present writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Today’s meeting of the world’s federation Strategic Committee, ahead of this week’s executive gathering, talked over the “composition of the International Football Association Board.”
The law-making body is a separate formal entity from FIFA but the world federation undertakes all the administration and has half – four – of the voting places. The other four votes are taken up by the four British home associations (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).
Criticism of the operation and make-up of the board has built up in the past 18 months along with an increasing number of attacks on what many non-British federations consider the historical anachronism of the British vice-presidency of FIFA.
Fuel was poured on the fire by FA chairman David Bernstein’s intervention at last year’s FIFA Congress and by recent incendiary remarks by Sir Dave Richards during a conference in Doha when he accused FIFA and the European federation UEFA of “stealing” the game.
One of the most ferocious critics of what he considered British football’s exceptional privileges was Argentina’s Julio Grondona who is senior vice-president of FIFA and deputy chairman of the Strategic Committee.
Richards, chairman of the Premier League, is the one British representative on the committee though his formal status is a presence on behalf of the European Professional Football Leagues. He was unable to be present today in Zurich and sent his apologies.
Last week Alex Horne, general secretary of the Football Association, conceded that the British vice-presidency might have lost validity, particularly in the context of attempts to put FIFA on a reforming path.
However, while the ‘British Four’ – England more than the other three – may be prepared to concede ground on the vice-presidency this would be only as a negotiating ploy in exchange for retaining the present composition of IFAB.
A FIFA statement after today’s “successful session” of the committee noted that the “main topics discussed were matters directly affecting the game, such as the composition of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the protection of the game including the international match calendar, insurance of players and third-party ownership, as well as the need to find the right balance between the interests of clubs and national teams.”
The Strategic Committee’s formal membership – when everyone is present – is as follows:
Chairman Sepp Blatter (Swz, FIFA president); Deputy chairman Julio Grondona (Arg). Members: Issa Hayatou (Cameroon, CAF president), Ángel María Villar Llona (Sp, referees committee), Michel Platini (Fr, UEFA president), David Chung (PNG, OCEANIA president), Michel D’Hooghe (Bel, medical committee), Nicolás Leoz (Par, CONMEBOL president), Zhang Jilong ( Ch, AFC president), Theo Van Seggelen (Neth, FIFPro), Abdullah Al-Sehli (SAr, Saudi Lge), Jean-Michel Aulas (Fr, Lyon), Silvana Burtini (Can, players), Vicente Del Bosque (Sp, coaches), Sahilu Gebremariam (Eth), Alex Godinet (AmSa), Herbert Hainer (Ger, marketing), Alfredo Hawit (Hon, CONCACAF acting president), Moise Katumbi (Congo DR, TP Mazembe), Marta (Brz, players), Imtiaz Patel (SAf, TV), Sir Dave Richards (Eng, EPFL), Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Ger, ECA), Norio Sasakj (Jpn, women’s football), Pia Sundhage (Swe, women’s football). Oscar Tabarez (Uru, coaches), Sheikh Talal Fahad Al-Sabah (Kwt), Makhdoom Syed Saleh Hayat (Pak).
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