by Chris Tobin

Once again The English Football Association has outdone themselves when it comes to their own media management, or mismanagement as the case continues to be.

This is an organisation that continually harps on about how they tackle the delicate subject of racism within football – head on and seriously – whilst their actions project ineptitude along with basic mismanagement in Public Relations. Now we could all assume that the FA are paying some fancy London PR company to manage their affairs – well the truth is without the need for assumption, they were using Saatchi & Saatchi, who have just been replaced by a company by the name of – wait for it …. Mischief PR. This after the Saatchi brothers refused to pitch for the contract.

Let’s take a gentle step back in time, a time when Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has been found guilty without any collaborating evidence, of the offence of misconduct to wit using insulting words to Mr Evra and reference to his colour. So here we have an opportunity to gain maximum exposure surrounding the FA’s stance – whether you support (believe) Suarez or not is irrelevant at this point. The Football Association, although they had found Suarez guilty with their own reasoning, then decide to wait until 8pm on New Year’s Eve to release that information. Their offices were closed for the next four days.

Which then brings us onto the John Terry case. The FA clearly had all the information required for judgement, as they supplied the Crown with taped interviews and statements which had already been gathered pre-trial. John Terry was found not guilty in his court case and this was on every news bulletin on the hour every hour. It was Sky sports lead story for TWO days.

Fast forward two weeks and one of football’s major headlines, another opportunity for the FA to show the world they are flexing their anti-racism muscles – with the release of a statement saying “John Terry has been charged with using abusive and threatening behaviour toward Anton Ferdinand”. Have I missed something? Where are the words ‘racist’ and ‘colour’?

We are all aware that John Terry has admitted he said some un-pleasantries, regardless of context, so  why is he not facing the disrepute charge and why is Anton Ferdinand not also facing a charge of using abusive behaviour toward Terry? As he also admitted saying some very colourful (no pun intended) things toward John Terry.

So once again the FA Public Relations machine decide to tell the world about this latest bout of “Catch a racist” on the very afternoon that the world’s greatest sporting event is going to take place – The Olympics. What a way to bury some not so good news. It would make you wonder whether this was a deliberate ploy on behalf of the Conservatives – sorry I mean the FA!! Not one news channel covered the John Terry charge in their evening bulletin which is a great result for the FA.

When The FA deliver their verdict, they have already consulted judges and legal whizzers about any validity to charging Terry, so you can assume they have consulted on a guilty verdict and you can bet your bottom dollar they are all sat around that nice wooden table planning when to release that statement, hoping for a Royal death or maybe a war, indeed any massive sweeping brush at the ready to sweep under the carpet.

The FA cannot help but screw up, at what seems every juncture. Here we have an organisation that has refused to name drugs cheats, whether recreational or not within the English game, reputedly preferring to take them out of football for a while with cover stories of injuries and similar. Protecting its own. Defending the beautiful game.

This organisation cannot govern itself in such matters, judging people like Suarez and Terry on probability, whilst they refuse to overturn a red card, when presented with the clearest evidence of no wrong doing. It requires a complete overall of its outdated policies because if the top of the game is being run so rotten, no wonder the bottom stinks also.

The other problem I have with the FA is it has far too close a relationship with the PFA. Some players are a disgrace in both behaviour on the field and off it but while the Football Association and the Professional Footballer’s Association has such a relationship nothing will change. An independent body needs to be in place to assume a much greater control over players, where they become accountable not only on the field but off it.

My fear is this; that it will not change, mainly because nobody really wants it to. Highly paid players will continue to be treated like school children over-seen by head teachers who make the rules up as they go , all the time hoping the kids play along.

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