The Duke of Cambridge’s team, Aston Villa, yesterday lost 4-0 to Arsenal in the FA Cup final. Not only was he disappointed in the result, having to give the trophy and winners medals to his brother’s club, Prince William could not help but mention the ongoing issues within the world’s football governing body.
FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, has refused to accept any responsibility for the recent corruption scandal, in which seven were arrested in Zurich earlier this week; charges include bribery, money laundering and racketeering.
William compared the situation to that of the US, when Salt Lake City, bidding to host the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, was engulfed in a similar scandal, with officials accepting perks to vote for the city to host the games. This led to International Olympic Committee reforms.
‘There seems to be a huge disconnect between the sense of fair play that guides those playing and supporting the game, and the allegations of corruption that have long lingered around the management of the sport internationally,’ he said.
‘The events in Zurich this week represent Fifa’s Salt Lake City moment, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) went through a similar period of serious allegations.
‘FIFA, like the IOC, must now show that it can represent the interests of fair play and put the sport first.’
The Duke also commended David Gill’s decision to refuse to take his post, not wanting to work under Blatter’s leadership; Gill is Britain’s FIFA vice-president. William also encouraged sponsors to withdraw, which would place pressure on the organisation to confront its issues.
‘I know I join with all of you in commending David Gill for his decision to stand down from the ExCo [executive committee], and to lead by example by doing so.’
‘Those backing FIFA,’ he continued, ‘such as sponsors and the regional confederations, must do their bit to press these reforms – we are doing football and its fans no favours if we do not.
‘I have no doubt that when FIFA reforms, its mission to spread the benefits of the game to more people, especially those in developing countries, can only be enhanced.’
A boycott will be considered by European football’s governing body, UEFA, when it meets next week in Berlin, and will be supported by English football.
The father-of-two then spoke about the English game, his desire to see racism wiped out, and for English football to be at the forefront of the game across the world.
‘We must ensure that the quality and the richness of the game at the highest levels is shared more generously at the grassroots; we must ensure that home-grown talent is better nurtured; and we must continue to kick out racism for good from our game.
‘I feel we need to ensure that we become the gold standard of sporting governance. A modern, transparent and inclusive organisation – representative of the broad and diverse society who play and love our game.
‘Over the next few years, if we want credibly to influence the debate on reform in FIFA, we must continue to strive for excellence in our own organisation.
‘It’s not easy to do so, but it is worth it – and, to that end, I commend the process you are on, and I’ll be watching it closely.’
William was no doubt glum at the result, with the match being described as one of the most one-sided finals ever, though friend, David Beckham, was cheering for Arsenal in the stands; Beckham assisted Prince William as FA President to help England host either the 2018 or the 2022 World Cup bid.
Feature photo: Government of Alberta