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Friday, 4 February 2011

Reassuringly Irrelevant


Fresh from guaranteeing that the world’s elite footballers will all boil to death on the surface of Qatar in 2022, current governing body FIFA has decided to preoccupy itself with how best to keep body temperatures high until the W-oil-d Cup in the Middle East. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) – the game’s lawmaker, made up of FIFA, the FA and the three other home nations – will host its Annual General Meeting on March 5 at Celtic Manor in Wales. TAKE THAT FA. Not even fit to host your own admin meetings.

FIFA submits a report to the IFAB in preparation for the meeting. On the agenda, which presumably doesn’t include the whole ‘rooting out corruption’ thingy, are snoods. Fucking hell. SNOODS.

Snoods and tights, in fact. And the desperate, urgent need for football’s lawmakers to deal with this, one of the game’s greatest cancers? A mysterious FIFA spokesman managed to whiffle around a mouthful of marinated dragon: "We want a debate over the snood and whether it could be dangerous. There may be a safety issue - if for example a player was running through on goal and an opponent grabbed his snood, that could pose a potential danger to his neck."

OH BRILLIANT. What about the fact that FIFA sanctions boots with STUDS on the bottom? That could pose a potential danger to people’s legs, couldn’t it? Playing the game with a hard ball could pose potential dangers to people’s noses. Players with hands could pose a potential danger to their opponent’s faces. I don’t think any player would be idiotic enough to grab an opponent’s snood, in much the same way you don’t see them brazenly punch each other in the face for 90 minutes. And FIFA, quite seriously, may as well request that the future of players’ hands be discussed. "Well it’s in the laws of the game that they can’t use them. We’re upholding the rules (for a change) AND preventing possible dangers. Off with their hands!"

"Bit harsh", you might be thinking. "They’ll probably discuss other stuff as well, like video technology". Ah yes, but they’ve been discussing video technology for ages, and so far the solutions implemented around the world have included… two extra referees. And there was me thinking the reliability of referees was the issue in the first place. Nothing like clearing up any reasonable doubt by adding an EXTRA REF to proceedings.

But I digress. Here are some of the other items FIFA wants on the agenda for the IFAB’s AGM (as an aside, this is an ANNUAL General Meeting. Their ONE CHANCE EACH YEAR to make some changes):

• Clarify the rules for referees to stop play when an object – such as another ball, or an animal – comes onto the pitch
• The use of 'vanishing spray' by referees to mark out the line where a defensive wall should not cross
• Enforcing the rule that tights match the colour of the player’s shorts.
• Discussion on whether fouls which deny a clear goal-scoring opportunity should be deemed automatic red card offences if a penalty is also awarded.

It’s idiotic. I could answer these fairly quickly. First one: stop play. Remove intruding object. Start play with drop ball. Second one: No. It’s only going to result in another discussion over video technology to see if anyone encroached over the line or not. Third one: Tell players to make sure their tights match their shorts. Or tell them not to wear tights. Fourth one: Yes.

Done. I haven’t even needed a 17-course lunch off a mermaid's stomach to sort all that out.

We probably shouldn’t be that surprised. This is bureaucracy at its finest, and if there’s one organisation that does meaningless and stupid better than FIFA, it’s the English FA. And if there’s one organisation that does it even better than them, it’s the SFA. But don’t worry about these agendas of staggering irrelevance, ordinary football fan. Just be sure that the totally impossible scenario in which forwards are strangled by an opposition defender will be reviewed in detail, just in time for the weather to turn more clement and for no one to even bother wearing snoods for at least eight months.

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