The very words conjure up feelings of abuse or laughter. To some they are a necessary evil, to others they are the very foundations on which the game is laid. The reality is that at grass roots level – and lets face it that’s where most of us experience the beautiful game – to be a football administrator involves countless selfless & unpaid hours, neglecting home & family life to further enhance the enjoyment of the game for people who do nothing but criticise. Often – nay, usually – there are no thanks for the time, effort and expense which our administrators experience in trying to help. But as soon as things go wrong, don’t the knockers knock?
Take the experiences of a certain Mr Charles Dempsey CBE, over the past twelve months or so. Charlie was at the centre of controversy for abstaining from voting for the host of the 2006 World Cup, probably the most important vote a FIFA congressman takes every four years. As soon as the public was made aware of each vote, Charlie was slaughtered by the media for his abstention. He was front page news around the globe in football playing and non-football playing nations alike. He “single handedly denied the African continent their right” we were told. “He’s old and senile” we were told, “How could he go against his Oceania mandate?” we were asked. The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, & the Minister for Sport Trevor whatsisname, both wasted no time in jumping on the Anti-Charlie bandwagon – though exactly what the hell it had to do with either of them is anybody’s guess. He and his family were vilified and hounded, until Charlie was left with little choice but to resign.
Not a word was said about the TWELVE administrators who actually voted against South Africa. No that was okay but Charlie ABSTAINED. Disgraceful isn’t it? Well how about this – maybe he abstained because the Oceania mandate was patently wrong but rather than go against that mandate, he avoided voting for it?
The last twelve months in South Africa have been a catalogue of footballing disaster. Riot after riot, stampede after stampede, death after death. In the last month alone we have had 130 dead in Accra Ghana, 1 death in the Ivory Coast, 8 deaths in Congo and 43 in Johannesburg – the would be host of the 2006 World Cup Final. Put simply, South Africa were never, ever capable of hosting the world cup and nor are they likely to be in the next ten years. The worlds greatest event – sports, religious or otherwise – would have ended in tragedy. We ALL know that, and whether we like it or not Charles Dempseys’ abstention saved our sport from ridicule.
Have Ms Clark & Mr Whatsisname come out and thanked Charlie for saving us? Is he on the frontpage of newspapers around the world? NO.
Funny that. Who ever thanked an administrator anyway?