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Report: FA to consider rebranding to EFA for better public image

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“Which delegation are you from?” “Where’s from the FA.” “Which FA?”

This was a common refrain at FIFA and global soccer meetings between executives with the FA and those from foreign associations. It’s gotten to a point that according to a report in The Guardian, the FA are looking to rebrand as the English FA in order to sever any negative connection with the name and what it stands for.

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“I think we are perceived as arrogant,” outgoing FA CEO Martin Glenn said in 2015. “I don’t think we necessarily are but perceptions … it does matter. We go to international conventions and say: ‘Hi, I’m Martin Glenn and I am from the FA.’ Which one? Obviously the English, because we invented it. Every other is the German association, the French association, we are so assumptive. Changing the name would possibly be a solution.”

Organizations across the globe commonly rebrand to avoid connections with a previous poor reputation, or to distance themselves from poor decisions made by previous leaders of the group. In this case, it only makes sense for the FA to identify itself as being from England to seamlessly fit in with the rest of world soccer’s federations.

According to the report, it would not change the name of the FA Cup or FA Council, but would instead be more focused on improving England’s image abroad. In addition, the rebrand, which is being considered by the FA board of directors, comes ahead of a possible bid for the 2030 World Cup. England would need a majority of the world’s FAs to confirm it, ahead of rival bids from South America (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile), Eastern Europe (Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia) and Morocco.

Fulham owner withdraws offer to purchase Wembley Stadium

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Wembley Stadium is set to stay in the FA’s hands.

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The FA announced in a press release Wednesday that Fulham owner Shahid Khan had withdrawn his offer of $790 million to purchase Wembley Stadium. Khan first became interested in buying the stadium in February 2017, when he and FA CEO Martin Glenn met at the Superbowl. What followed was an informal offer to the FA Board of Directors before a formal offer was made.

The offer has been valued at anywhere from nearly $800 million to nearly $1.2 billion. In a statement, Khan said that his goal to purchase the stadium was to provide the FA with a large amount of capital which it could use to improve grassroots soccer around the country.

“The intent of my efforts was, and is, to do right by everyone in a manner that strengthens the English game and brings people together, not divides them,” Khan said. “Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favored by the FA chairman to sell Wembley Stadium.”

The FA council was set to vote on the sale next week.

Although it cost the FA and British government more than $1.4 billion (adjusted for inflation) to renovate and rebuild Wembley Stadium, the arena hosted 33 events between July 2016 and June 2017 and in its latest published financial records, the FA recorded an after-tax profit of $21 million. So it seems that along with the sponsorships and broadcast deals, Wembley Stadium is a money maker, which makes it important for the FA to hold on to.

That being said, it’s hard to turn down a deal worth close to $1 billion, even if that’s a lump sum and they won’t receive further investments from stadium revenues in the future. In the future, maybe Khan or another owner may make another offer, one that the FA council could accept.

England to use “Rooney Rule” for future appointments

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The English Football Association have confirmed that they will be using the “Rooney Rule” for upcoming staff appointments.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn has stated that England will use the rule when appointing a successor to current Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate, plus positions across the other England national teams.

In a statement released on Tuesday which promised sweeping changes to the way the FA governs the game in England and how the English national teams are set up, the implementation of the “Rooney Rule” was confirmed.

“The principles of a voluntary Rooney Rule will be formally adopted by the England team set-up. This will ensure that at least one BAME candidate will be interviewed for every role as long as such a candidate has applied and meets the recruitment criteria.”

Speaking to BBC Sport, Glenn had the following to say about his plans with Southgate currently locked into a contract until 2020 and backed to stay on however England fare at the 2018 World Cup in Russia this summer.

“What it will say is the opportunity to have a career beyond playing is something that the FA is serious about promoting,” Glenn said. “The FA wants to become a more inclusive organisation where the workforce more represents the people who play football today.”

There have been calls for much of the soccer world to implement the long-standing NFL ruling (introduced in 2003) which and now a procedure is in place for coaches from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background to be interviewed for future roles in the England set-up.

Clubs from the English Football League have already adopted the “Rooney Rule” and that kicked in on Jan. 1, 2018, while the academy systems of teams in tiers 2-4 in the UK have been using this criteria since the summer of 2017.

According to initial reports, this ruling will mean at least one coach from a minority background will be interviewed for each England job which becomes available, given they meet a certain criteria, i.e. have the necessary coaching badges.

This is a big step forward from the FA which has become embattled in recent months.

Given the ongoing investigation into claims of historic sexual abuse of young players in England followed by the firing of Mark Sampson as the manager of the England women’s national team — due to past alleged abuse against his former players and allegations of racist abuse from himself and his staff against female squad members of the Three Lionesses — the way the FA is organized and governed has been heavily scrutinized.

Prince William’s dilemma: Royal Wedding clashes with FA Cup final

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The date for the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle has been set and there’s a bit of a dilemma for Prince William: it’s on the same day as the 2017-18 FA Cup final on May 19, 2018.

Why does that matter?

William has been the president of the English Football Association for the last 10 years and he, along with other members of the Royal Family, usually attend the showpiece final at Wembley and hand out the trophy to the winning team.

Not this time.

With the date confirmed on Friday for the Royal Wedding takes place at Windsor Castle on May 19, specific times have yet been announced for the ceremony. Could that mean a late dash from the wedding to hand out the trophy at Wembley for Prince William? If his beloved Aston Villa make the final, maybe it’s not out of the question…

In a statement to the BBC, the FA had the following to say about the “fixture clash” in May:

“Everyone at The FA is delighted for HRH Prince Harry and Megan Markle with the announcement of their wedding at Windsor Castle next year. Saturday May 19 promises to be a wonderful day with a special royal occasion followed by English football’s showpiece event, the Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. With millions coming together to watch both events at home and around the world, it will be a day to celebrate.”

The life of a royal isn’t all fun and games…

Statement released on Niasse’s ban for “deception”

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The reasons behind Oumar Niasse‘s ban for “deception of a match official” (diving, or simulation, to you and I) have been explained.

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Niasse, 27, became the first player in Premier League history to be banned retrospectively for simulation with new rules which came into place in May being used.

Everton forward Niasse went down easily in the penalty box after slight contact from Scott Dann in the first half of their 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace on Saturday and referee Anthony Taylor awarded a penalty kick. However, Niasse was then retrospectively handed a two-game ban for simulation.

Niasse and Everton appealed the ban but the FA upheld the decision from an Independent Commission made up of a former professional player, referee and official, who revealed they were “unanimous” in charging him with diving.

Below is a look at how they came to make the decision.

“The Commission were unanimous that the video footage gave clear and overwhelming evidence that the player had exaggerated the effect of a normal contact in order to deceive the referee.

“The Commission noted that there was contact between Scott Dann and Mr Niasse but the Commission considered the contact to be normal, fair and expected contact in the situation that arose with Mr Niasse ‘taking on’ Mr Dann. The Commission unanimously agree that the nature of the contact made by Scott Dan was minimal in nature and would not have thrown Mr Niasse off balance and knock him down in the way that Mr Niasse portrayed it to have done.

“To the minds of the Commission members the movements of Mr Niasse’s body, in particular the arching of the back and the collapsing of both legs, were simply not consistent with the amount of force exerted upon him by Mr Dann and in exaggerating the effect of the contact made between himself and Mr Dann, Mr Niasse deceived the referee and this led to a penalty being awarded by the referee.”

This decision is truly groundbreaking in the PL.

Last season 22 players were booked for simulation in Premier League games, so this new ruling could see plenty of two-game bans dished out until players finally stop taking a tumble to try and win a penalty kick or free kick.

Of course, there is still a certain amount of subjectivity to all of this but the FA and PL have shown they will take a tough stance against simulation. Good on them. Now, can they keep it up and be consistent in dishing out these bans? That’s the big challenge.