If, like me, you’ve read Andrew Jennings’ tremendous book “Foul” (although be prepared to take some his views with perhaps a minor pinch of salt), you’ll know that FIFA is, to all intents and purposes, utterly unfit for purpose.
Today, that complete lack of fitness was exemplified. FIFA in the past, barring the corruption allegations and the fact that those at the top are utterly devoid of any sense, management talent or even a tangible love for the game, has shown a complete lack of sense in many of its rule changes.
Take, for example, the yellow card for the removal of a shirt or perhaps a brief flirtation with the crowd having scored a goal. Surely the goal is football in microcosm; the utter point of the game boiled down into that one utterly fantastic moment of collective euphoria, sometimes among thousands of people (not to mention millions watching on TV). The goalscorer, utterly caught up in the moment, as any other person who had any kind of notion of a liking for football would understand, chooses to remove his shirt or perhaps leap the hoarding into the crowd for a second to celebrate for that little moment he has. And gets booked for the privilege. Yup, that same punishment which can be doled out for a rash tackle from behind, mouthing off endlessly at the referee or perhaps a good old kicking the ball away is given to a footballer for acting like a human. Thanks FIFA.
Then, there’s the offside rule. I could write an essay on active and passive, interfering with play or not interfering with play, but I won’t. What I utterly fail to understand is how a governing body can blithely allow a perfectly sensible, sane rule to become completely clouded in confusion. Again, good work from FIFA and IFAB.
Arbitrary rule number three could probably be summed up in one word – altitude. FIFA’s flirtation with stopping sides from playing above 2,500m, effectively stopped the Bolivian national team from playing in its own national stadium for a number of months. Thankfully, someone at FIFA saw sense and this was lifted soon after.
Today’s announcement that the snood is on its way out of football is yet another example of FIFA’s bizarre attitude to the game. My first memory of seeing one was Gianluigi Buffon sporting one at a windy, wet Hampden in November 2007 (never a free kick ref, if anything it was a foul on Hutton). I did think at the time “well he’s a bit girly is he not,” but other than that could see no real problem with it.
But no, FIFA and IFAB have deemed that the snood is not to be part of the beatiful game, and is to be “outlawed” by 1 July this year. A more pointless announcement I could not imagine. I can’t see who it offends (perhaps other than some old school football chaps like Sir Alex), I can’t see any health and safety issues with it, and thus I can’t for the life me determine why FIFA have decided it is deserving of its focus. Indeed, Arsene Wenger has touted the medical benefits of actually wearing the blinking things. The fact that FIFA has chosen to focus on a piece of fluff that warms footballers’ necks rather than get its own house in order is of course, not a surprise; Blatter and co are the masters of the PR distraction – talking nonsense about female players wearing tighter shorts while taking $2bn in TV revenue out of a country plagued by a high murder rate, an AIDS epidemic and now several large, empty football stadiums.
Today’s announcement is classic Blatter, and classic FIFA. They are no doubt well aware of the world’s impression of them following the utter debacle that was the selection of the winning bidders for the 2018 and (particularly) the 2022 World Cups. Therefore, no doubt Messrs Blatter and Warner see the eradication of the evil that is the snood from the game as some positive PR. “Well, you may think Qatar was an astoundingly terrible choice for 2022, but look, we’re banning that scarfy thing.”
So I say, bring back the snood. It may look ridiculous to some, but there are far bigger things to be concerned with in FIFA’s world. Sadly, most of that concern rests within their own house, and with the current president and executive committee at the helm, that won’t change any time soon.
P.S Encourage your local executive committee member to vote for this guy: