PORT LOUIS: Jim Boyce will take to the podium among his FIFA executive colleagues on Friday knowing that they are about to make him – or, rather, his role in world football – extinct writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The proposals for governance reform being put to the world federation’s annual congress at the SVI Convention Centre in Mauritius include wiping from the statutes the British vice-presidency.
The four British ‘home nations’ had their status enshrined in FIFA law in 1946 when Sir Stanley Rous, then general secretary of the Football Association, negotiated their return to the FIFA fold in exchange also for the cash from a representative international between Great Britain and a World XI.
Simultaneously the Soviet Union joined FIFA, also with a guaranteed vice-presidency. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the vice-presidency was transferred to UEFA.
Similarly, when FIFA Congress votes on a reform package on Friday this will include the deletion of all references to the British vice-presidency which will then become another European ‘possession.’
Theo Zwanziger, the former German federation president who has guided the latter stages of the reform process, has always been an expressed opponent of what he considered an outmoded institution.
Further opposition within FIFA was sparked by the FA’s politically unwise and vain attempt, in 2011, to delay the presidential election.
However the FA saw certain advantages to be gained from letting the vice-presidency go without a fight. One was the implicit agreement that the British roles on the law-making International Board should be left unchallenged; a second was the possibility of more ultimate English access to the FIFA top table.
The need for consensus among the home nations over the choice of vice-president has meant that – apart from a recent, accidental accession of Geoff Thompson – England’s preference has been outvoted by Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Hence Friday’s vote means Northern Ireland’s Jim Boyce, who took over the British vice-presidency two years ago, will go down in history as the last man to hold the role.