Gaillard: English FA one of weakest in Europe

LONDON - The English FA is one of the weakest in Europe and unable to cope with the power wielded by the Premier League and Football League, a top UEFA official said on Tuesday.

William Gaillard, senior advisor to UEFA president Michel Platini, told a UK Parliament inquiry into the governance of English football that the national team would never be successful unless it followed models used in other countries.

"There is no doubt that turf wars have damaged English football and the FA is probably in a weaker spot than any other FA in Europe - probably the result of the overwhelming power of professional football especially as expressed by the Premier League and Football League," he said.

"In most other countries the professional game has a minority position and is not so overwhelming. The FAs tend to rule over all aspects of football."

Gaillard reckoned England should learn from Dutch football, which he said was "an excellent grass-roots model," and that the FA should have a technical director.

"In most other Continental countries, the priority is given to the social and educational role of sport," he said.

"Within the FA there should be a national technical director fully in charge of football education and grass-roots for the whole country who would delegate out but would remain in command of the overall picture. That's what exists in most other good educational models in Europe."


British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson told his fellow Members of Parliament that football was the worst-run sport in the country.

"When I look at the corporate governance operations in sports, particularly the big five, it was noticeably worse than in any other sport, he said.

"There are no independent non-executive directors - every single one of the directors is a white male and late middle-aged and there is no one who has played the game to any reasonable level and no women or anyone from the ethnic communities."

Robertson also said that women footballers would be the biggest losers if there was no unified British team in next year's Olympic Games in London.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have refused to participate in the football in the Games, fearful of losing their status as independent nations in FIFA.

"I will try to persuade my counterparts of what FIFA have said, which is that there is no threat to their independence by contributing to a Great Britain team," he said.

"Strangely enough, the greatest losers if we are unable to get over the line on this one will be women's football which would get an unbelievable showcase through London 2012 in a way that it doesn't always get otherwise."