Sepp Blatter is not the only man who has had enough of what more and more around the world perceive as England’s expectation of special consideration for its role in creating and spreading the gospel of association football.
FIFA’s president hit out last week, in a Brazilian interview. He laid the blame for an obsession with exco corruption at the door of England’s bitter resentment, 37 years on, at the ousting by Joao Havelange of Sir Stanley Rous as FIFA president.
Blatter’s diatribe – probably reflecting his own irritation at FA chairman David Bernstein’s misjudged intervention at FIFA Congress – has been supported by FIFA vice-presidents Julio Grondona and Angel Villar and has now been followed up by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Bayern Munich’s chief executive has been speaking out with an ever-sharper tone lately in his role as chairman of the increasingly voluble European Club Association.
Rummenigge attacked FIFA and UEFA in aggressive terms before, during and after the recent ECA conference in Geneva. But he also directed critical comment at what he considers the anachronistic status enjoyed by the four British home nations.
To be fair, it was only in July that Rummenigge and Bayern president Uli Hoeness had been laying into their own German federation president, Theo Zwanziger, whom UEFA slotted into the FIFA executive this spring in succession to Franz Beckenbauer.
Rummenigge has been reassured, after a face-to-face meeting, that Zwanziger is on the side of the reformers . . . and one of the reforms which the one-time West Germany captain wants to see concerns the make-up of the law-making International Football Association Board.
Now 125 years old, IFAB comes to imperative decisions only once a year – at the annual meeting which is always held at the start of March. Created by the four British FAs it was decided in 1958 to reach the present configuration of four delegates from FIFA plus the existing one each from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
A positive decision demands three-quarters approval, thus six votes. Hence neither FIFA nor the British can ever be a law-changing block.
Rummenigge wants a root and branch reform of FIFA’s governing structure and that includes rebuilding IFAB according to logic rather than romantic history.
“It does not make any sort of sense,” he said, “that four gentlemen from Great Britain and four from FIFA decide whether we can have goal-line technology in the German Bundesliga. We want transparency throughout FIFA and, in this case, that must mean – for example – referees around that particular table, representatives of the whole football family.
“Why should only the four British FAs be there, I’d like to know. Because that’s how it was 100 years ago? We can’t go on like that.”
Rummenigge is not alone in thinking that way.