Home nations facing FIFA revolt

PA Sport
Jim Boyce

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Jim Boyce

Britain's 66-year claim to the post of FIFA vice-president is under serious threat of being abolished, it can be revealed.

Theo Zwanziger, the German appointed to head the task force to recommend reforms of FIFA's statutes, has earmarked the British vice-presidency as an outdated privilege which does not fit in with modern governance practices.

Jim Boyce, the current British FIFA vice-president who is from North Ireland, confirmed the threat, saying: "Following the last meeting of the FIFA executive committee I did report to the British associations that Mr Zwanziger had reported that he was looking into the position of the British FIFA vice-presidency as part of his review of the FIFA statutes."

The FAs of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already held initial discussions about the threat and what steps they might take.

The four British associations have had the vice-presidency since they joined FIFA in 1946 and organised a Britain v Rest of Europe match in front of 130,000 spectators at Hampden Park that raised £35,000 to get the world governing body back on its feet after the Second World War.

The privilege has long been a cause of resentment, however, and this resurfaced at last year's FIFA Congress after the FA chairman David Bernstein made an unsuccessful call to postpone Sepp Blatter's unopposed re-election as president.

Argentina's FIFA vice-president Julio Grondona then referred to the privilege during a vitriolic blast at the FA, saying: "I see it at every Congress. They have specific privileges with four countries having one vice-president. It looks like England is always complaining, so please, I say, will you leave the FIFA family alone. And when you speak, speak with truth."

For some among the home nations, the abolition of the vice-presidency would not be a disaster as there is a feeling that the position has done little for them in recent years other than breed resentment in the rest of the world.

England's Geoff Thompson held the vice-presidency from 2007 to 2011, but at FIFA's vote for the 2018 World Cup only one other member of the 24-man executive committee backed England's bid.

Zwanziger may also recommend changes to another privilege enjoyed by the four home nations - a seat each on the International FA Board (IFAB), the game's law-making body, alongside FIFA's four seats. However, that will be more difficult for Zwanziger to push through as Blatter has always been a strong supporter of the structure of that body.

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