Arise Sir Dave Richards – you are the hero of the football fan!

Incase you missed it, Premier League chairman Sir David Richards has been in the firing line this week after he made some comments deemed inappropriate at a sport and security conference in Dubai. ‘Comedy Dave’ came out with some corkers as he told the attendees that ‘England gave the world football and then it was stolen by Fifa’ before soaking himself by falling in to a fountain whilst on his way to a sit-down dinner. The Premier League have distanced themselves from his comments, as have the FA, claiming he was there in a personal capacity and was not representing either body with his views and comments. The media have gone to town on Richards, labeling him a ‘laughing stock’ and Richards himself has been prompted to come out and apologise for causing such offense! Richards maybe a football relic, but I see his comments quite differently.

Sir Dave’s main comments:

“For 50 years, we owned the game. We were the governance of the game. We wrote the rules, designed the pitches and everything else. Then, 50 years later, some guy came along and said you’re liars and they actually stole it. It was called FIFA. Fifty years later, another gang came along called UEFA and stole a bit more.”
Dave also said the Qatari’s need to stop ‘burying their heads in the sand’ over alcoholic consumption at the 2022 World Cup:

“In our country and in Germany we have a culture. We call it ‘we would like to go for a pint and that pint is a pint of beer’. It is our culture as much as your culture is not drinking. There has to be a happy medium”

On reading the comments the uproar from all section of the media, the FA and the Premier League is not a surprise – this is about as un-PC as things can get from such a high-ranking football official. The media compounded Richard’s misery after he publically slipped on to all-fours, falling in to a shallow water fountain, by reporting the incident as Richards ‘falling in to a pool’, setting off images of someone under the influence falling in to a swimming pool, fully clothed, in front of everyone in the style of ‘Frank the Tank’. Several sections of the media have decided Richard’s should go, that he is not up to speed with the modern football world – sound familiar?

For me Richards is a people’s champion!

He gave a very public two-finger salute to Fifa and Uefa, something that the football fans across the country wish they had the platform to do. The media have long battered Fifa and Sepp Blatter, portraying Blatter as a homophobic, racist, sexist, ineffective leader who has to go, whilst saying Fifa is a corrupt organization that needs to be overthrown or at the very least, completely overhauled. Richards gave a very raw opinion on the same argument, maybe it wasn’t conveyed as some would like, but at least he knows the issues of the fans.

The heritage, tradition and sentiment that underpins football in this country is quickly being replaced with corporate bullsh*t in a world that is far too PC and sensitive, where everything comes down to money, status and back scratching. As a football fan, I feel like the game we love is slipping away, bread and butter fans feel undervalued and increasing forgotten as football makes a quick transition from an enjoyable sport to a multi-million pound industry consumed by greed where fans are taken for granted. It feels like Fifa embody football’s corporate culture, well done Richards for having a pop – it was about time someone did.

Some may say waiving the history books in Fifa and Uefa’s faces is counterproductive and damages relations, but at least he wasn’t shying away from the issues. We should never forget the roots of football in this country that are quickly being lost. From the days of ‘mob football’ played between rival towns and villages, to the codification of the game in public schools and universities – we love the fact football is a global game, but we are proud to be credited as the founders of the modern game. Football has always been a game for the people and finally someone has spoken out in the face of a muted industry.

Richard’s views maybe draconian, but at the same time they are refreshing.

Football is raw, football is passion, football is life for many and we are allowed to have our opinions in the stands, at work and down the pub, but as soon as someone has an honest opinion in the corporate world, it is condemned. As a nation of fans, do we really care about potentially straining relations with Fifa and Uefa? We are hardly going to need the Treaty of Versailles to sort this one out.

When the venue for the 2022 World Cup was announced, hours were spent amongst the football community debating the suitability of host nation Qatar. The media slated Fifa’s selection of venue, saying it was totally based on money above anything else and there were more worthy bidders to host such a competition. Everyone, especially the journalists, were up in arms for days, even weeks, after the announcement, but as usual people make a lot of noise at the time and forget the issues, well done Richards for bringing it up again and touching on wider issues. Where has this fight gone?

Football has not only been stolen from the nation – it has been stolen from the people and Dave Richards showed us that ‘real’ people do still exist at corporate level in football who don’t just speak for the business side of football. Richards comments highlighted how the issues that real football fans in this country have no longer matter to the governing bodies of the sport or the journalists, who seemed to be more intent on a ‘nicey nicey’ approach and being PC, rather than making a stand for the fans that are the lifeblood of football. The condemnation of Richards just shows how large the gulf has become between football and the fans – we are losing our game more and more and fan opinion means nothing. Sir Dave Richards hold your head high, football needed a wakeup call!

This entry was posted in FIFA, Football and Society, Football Business, Premier League, the FA, UEFA, World Football. Bookmark the permalink.
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