Bernstein Writes to Blatter/Platini to Reassure Co-operation

June 6, 2011

David Bernstein, chairman of the English Football Association, has written to FIFA President Sepp Blatter to reassure him that they want to continue working with the world governing body, despite protesting at some of the comments made by senior officials, including Argentina’s Julio Grondona and Spain’s Angel Maria Villar-Llona.

An albeit unsuccessful attempt to get the controversial election at the FIFA Congress in Zurich last Wednesday, June 1, postponed, saw the FA praised and criticised in equal measure, demonstrating how isolated English soccer has become in the international arena.

Blatter promised after his re-election that England would not be punished for their intervention and that he wanted to continue to work with the FA and Bernstein has responded in kind.

The FA chairman wrote, in an article published in The Mail on Sunday: “Some advised against doing so [trying to get the election postponed] but I would have not been true to English football if I had ducked the issue.

“The various allegations of corruption and poor governance are highly damaging to the game and I am convinced our views have been a catalyst for change.

“I’ve since written to Sepp Blatter and restated our desire and support for reform and that England wants to continue working with FIFA.

“This is hugely important and the calls for us to remove ourselves completely are made without considering any impact this will have – no England teams, no European club football, foreign players moving or risking worldwide bans.”

However, Bernstein remains unhappy about the conduct of Grondona and Villar-Llona, both members of FIFA’s ruling Executive Committee, who were publicly highly critical of England during the Congress. 

“The lack of respect shown to England by some FIFA representatives for us speaking out was unacceptable – particularly the accusation of lies – and I have made reference to this in my letter to Mr Blatter,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein revealed that he has also written to UEFA President Michel Platini, who is tipped to succeed Blatter when he steps down in 2015, adding: “I’ve written to Michel Platini to set out how important this is to the FA.

“Last weekend was great for UEFA in England and I know how much Michel enjoyed his time in London and the superb Champions League Final [between Barcelona and Manchester United] at Wembley. We have to play a serious role in UEFA, to best represent English football.”

Bernstein went on to acknowledge that the FA has too look at its own structures as well, adding: “While we are right to advocate reform at FIFA, we are not blind to the need for necessary reform at home.

“We cannot call others into question without addressing the concerns around the governance of the FA and English football.

“There is a need for greater independence and expertise at the top of the FA and tomorrow I will begin my own consultation programme to instigate this.

“I have asked both the Premier and Football Leagues to work together with the FA to review the way the game is currently regulated and identify where improvements might be needed, to ensure greater transparency and accountability.

“We have to press forward with this as an absolute priority.

“So many people are looking for leadership from the FA. We cannot ease up on our pursuit of independence, good governance and transparency.

“If we want respect from fans, clubs, players and leagues we have to earn it. With my board members, I am determined we will provide the leadership required.”