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SBD Global/January 18, 2013/International Football

Not All Smiles For FA Despite 150th Anniversary Celebrations

There is an "imminent threat of government legislation facing the FA" even after Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson called its 150th anniversary "an extraordinary achievement" Wednesday, according to Charles Sale of the London DAILY MAIL. The Select Committee response in the next 10 days to the FA’s plans -- or lack of them -- for governance reform "is expected to be highly scathing of the football authorities" for sitting on its hands. This "could open the way for  legislation," possibly in the next session of parliament. And such an incendiary verdict from an all-party Department for Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee "would give Robertson the ammunition to be a lot more critical of the FA’s reform impasse." Roberston said: "We have identified one worse. Football has made some progress since I made that remark." The minister also claimed it was "complete rubbish" that FIFA would intervene if the government "introduced new laws to bring about the desired football governance changes, mainly blocked by strong FA Council opposition." FA Chair David Bernstein called reform progress "slower than it might have been." Robertson described Bernstein, who is standing down as FA chairman in July, as "crazy." Robertson said, "Nobody can think it’s a sensible idea to change a chairman in the middle of the 150th celebrations" (DAILY MAIL, 1/16).

TAKING STOCK: In London, David Conn wrote in the GUARDIAN's The Sport Blog "when contemplating the endearing qualities and maddening weakness" of the modern FA as it "treated itself to a 150th anniversary back-slapping banquet, it is crucial to understand how genuinely distinguished its history is." That original gathering in 1863, at a London pub, the Freemasons Arms, where 12 clubs of upper-class gentlemen met "to unify a set of laws, so they could play football against each other, did -- really -- establish the great and beautiful game." Amid the glitz, cheers and back-slapping to celebrate a truly remarkable history and the good work still done in many areas, the modern FA "should make time for a courageous, sober stock-take." Those gentlemen defining the laws at the Freemasons Arms "never imagined their sport would grow to captivate the world, but a surrender to commercial interests, viewing football as an entertainment product, was always the opposite of what they wanted" (GUARDIAN, 1/17).
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