Published: 21 DEC 2003
"This has been a brave decision by the FA and to bill them as puppets of agencies such as FIFA and Wada is an insult to a body that once led the world in establishing standards. Here is affirmation of a determination to regain control of the game and clean it up." So wrote Ian Ridley in the Observer this morning. Interesting words indeed.
"A brave decision" oh really! "...puppets of FIFA" you havin' a larf?
Ridley goes on to compare athletics with football and writes, "Taylor may wonder how many athletes receive two year bans for missing tests, but they can be tested randomly at home as well as at training camps and cannot escape." The words, "cannot escape" are interesting here because it implies that the testers order a test and wait with the athlete until the test is done. This would be the correct way and this is the way it should have been at Carrington. The fact is it wasn't, and therefore it was not in the least professionally done.
I do not condone Ferdinand for missing the test as it was outrageously unprofessional, but should he have been hung out to dry as he has been? No, of course he shouldn't. When Palios came to power he should have made it clear what the guidelines were - that if you missed a drugs test from then on you would be banned for 8 months. End of story. But he didn't. No guidelines were laid down and thus the FA and Manchester United are at loggerheads once again. It started with Sir Matt taking us into Europe and you fear it will never end.
In another article in the Observer this morning, Paul Wilson, Denis Campbell and Jamie Jackson prove themselves, just as many have done before, to be true journalists of convenience. take the anti Manchester United stance, earn the most brownie points - sell the most newspapers.
They write, "A confrontation like this has been on the cards for some time. The FA are supposed to control the game, but Manchester United do not want to be controlled." And you have absolute proof of that do you? Because if you haven't you are implying that United think themselves beyond the law, which is a very brave, if not foolhardy, statement indeed.
They go on to suggest that, "There have been many trigger points, such as Ferguson's refusal, at times (convenient and clever use of two words that!) to release players for England games because they were 'injured'; various on-field indiscretions (not at all backed up with any factual reference of course); United not playing in the 1999-00 FA Cup in order to compete in FIFA's inaugural World Club Championship......" etc etc.
The old United let down the FA Cup has once again reared it's ugly head, although I seem to remember that it was the FA who wanted United to go to Brazil to help England's bid for some World Cup competition or other. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't this hypocrisy of the highest order?
Then they write "The FA's special dispensation to them in 1999 to skip the FA Cup, even though they were the holders, because their consequent attendance at the inaugural World Club Championship in Brazil might help England's bid to stage the 2006 World Cup, strengthened the feeling that United see themselves as a club apart."
So I was right after all. But why, if United had no respect for the FA, would they help them out by going to Brazil? But this lot seem to be suggesting that it was United who wanted to go to help England in their bid for the World Cup and the FA grudgingly gave them "special dispensation." So a Scottish manager takes his club halfway round the world to help England in their bid for the World Cup and it's still all United's fault because they didn't defend the FA Cup as holders? That United consequently, "see themselves as a club apart." And these journalists wonder why we have little or no respect for them (and I am being kind here!)
They even go on to write about the England player revolt ahead of the Turkey game, ".....it was inevitable that the player orchestrating their move was Gary Neville." Anything to discredit United - how convenient that all this can be dredged up over and over again.
The fact of the matter is, as the Wizard pointed out, "English law is based on precedent, it has been for 200 years, and there is a precedent in this case." That precedent is the City player who was fined £2000 and not given a ban. If they intended any different, the FA should have made it known from the beginning that things were about to change. "Here are the rules, here are the guidelines, break them at your peril." No question - no problem. But they didn't, so they should have no case.
Rio was wrong, stupid, whatever, but should not be a scapegoat for the FA's inadequacies.
The answer - win the FA Cup and collect it from Palios with a wide ironic smile. Now that really would be sweet FA.
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