November 3, 2016

Sport

Congratulations to both the FA and the SFA. Shame on FIFA, says Rory Broomfield.

Congratulations must be given to both the English and Scottish Football Associations for defying the idiotic FIFA decision to try and ban both teams from wearing poppies to commemorate those who died trying to protect freedom. The attempt by FIFA to suppress freedom of speech was a spectacular own goal that brings the organisation into further disrepute.

This is not the first time, however, that FIFA has stuck its foot in it. Over the past few years, FIFA has been hit by scandal after scandal with one involving its general secretary, Jerome Valcke, being quickly followed by an investigation over the 2014 Football World Cup and allegations of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering. These scandals have led to a number individuals, including nine FIFA officials and five businessmen, to be indicted over the past few years.

This cloud of suspicion allowed Leave campaigner and Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, to liken FIFA to that other body of ill-repute: the EU. Dan wrote that saying “I support the EU because I like Europe” is rather like saying “I support FIFA because I like football”. He was illustrating the fact that you don’t have to support an organisation dogged by corruption scandals and suspicion (FIFA and the EU) to like something beautiful (Europe and football).

Indeed, football was once called the beautiful game by Pele. He might not describe it as such anymore. If he doesn’t, I wouldn’t blame him: the off the field behaviour of FIFA, its officials and its associates have brought the entire game into disrepute.

This case though is worrying because it goes beyond straight corruption involving money. On the contrary, it tries to interfere with domestic culture.

FIFA rejected the bids by both English and Scottish football associations to wear the poppies because, according to SFA chief Stewart Regan, it bans political, religious or commercial messages on shirts.

To think that commemorating the sacrifice of those who fell in the fight for freedom is a political, religious or commercial message is just idiotic. It defies belief. But by this ruling FIFA is restricting freedom of speech and association within the UK. It is a dangerous precedent that must to overturned.

Unfortunately, FIFA’s actions have ironically drawn the focus away from football and onto politics. It has acted against the best interests of the game. Congratulations must therefore be given to both the FA and the SFA for standing up against this attempt at curtailing our culture. In doing so, I hope we can get on and watch the game and not the backroom politics.

And if FIFA continue to try and fine both Associations, the FA and the SFA should tell the ignorant bureaucrats where to go.

November 3, 2016

FA right to defy FIFA poppy ban

Congratulations to both the FA and the SFA. Shame on FIFA, says Rory Broomfield.
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