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Football
Richards: 'FIFA 'stole' football'
EPL chairman launches extraordinary attack on world and European football's governing body at Qatar conference.
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2012 15:52
The provision of alcohol at football stadiums in Qatar 2022 was also raised by Richards [GETTY]

English Premier League chairman Dave Richards has accused FIFA and UEFA of ‘stealing football’ from the English, as part of a general attack on world football’s governing body.

Speaking at a sports and security conference in Doha, Qatar, Richards said that the world had England to thank for football.

"England gave the world football. It gave the best legacy anyone could give. We gave them the game," Richards said.

"Then, 50 years later, some guy came along and said, you're liars, and they actually stole it. It was called FIFA.

"Fifty years later, another gang came along called UEFA and stole a bit more."

The English FA distanced itself from Richards’ comments, saying they were made in a personal capacity, and Richards later apologised for his remarks.

‘Wasting money’

With FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan and International Cricket Council Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat looking on, Richards also claimed that FIFA should specify regions where it would like to stage World Cups so that other nations did not waste money on bids, referring to the failed attempt to win the right to stage the 2018 World Cup which will now be hosted by Russia.

"I believe England didn't understand the ground rules when we went in - and paid the price," he said, referring to the failed attempt to win the right to stage the 2018 World Cup which will now be hosted by Russia.

"Why couldn't they (FIFA) have said, we want to take it to the Gulf, to the eastern bloc? We spent $29.90 million on that bid," added Richards in a reference to Qatar also winning the bid for the 2022 finals.

"When we went for it everybody believed we had a chance. But as we went through it a pattern emerged that suggested maybe we didn't."

Richards also said the availability of alcohol was another issue that would need to be addressed in advance of 2022, saying it was important to acknowledge the culture of the Gulf, a beer was ‘tradition’ and a ‘part of our heritage’.

'Designated areas'

Qatar, a conservative Muslim nation in the Gulf, currently limits the sale of alcohol primarily to five-star hotels, but have maintained throughout its bid that alcohol would be available in designated areas.

"Alcohol will be allowed in Qatar,” said 2022 Supreme Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi earlier on Wednesday.

“We're discussing with FIFA the extent of it and where exactly. You've got different perspectives coming out of Brazil, England and Russia. There's obviously a serious issue, and it's something we're looking into," said 2022 Supreme Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi.

Discussions are being held as to where within the stadiums alcohol will be permitted. In England, for example, alcohol can be purchased and consumed in stadium concourses, but not at seats.

Brazil, who will host the 2014 World Cup, has seen delays in approving a so-called World Cup bill, which would overturn a ban on the sale of alcohol in Brazilian stadiums.

Alcohol sales have been banned from football stadiums in Brazil since 2003 in an effort to reduce alcohol-related sports violence.

FIFA has said it will defend the commercial rights of its sponsors, including Anheuser-Busch InBev, which will sponsor the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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