2007.02.15 sportscheat.org letter to the FA 03

February 16, 2007

Alex Howells | Customer Relations Officer
The Football Association
25 Soho Square | London | W1D 4FA
T +44 (0) 20 7745 4545

Dear Mr. Howells,

This is not short, so please get yourself a cup of coffee and a comfortable seat. This letter is almost, now, some sort of manifesto although that was not my original intention. Before I go on and on and on, here. How this started. You may skip this section entirely if you feel it does not matter, you have no time or whatever other reason is available. I simply believe communication works best when there is some understanding of the person you are communicating with.

Please excuse small, occasional spelling and grammar errors. I am a bad typist with no editor.

HOW SPORTSCHEAT.ORG GOT STARTED, 36HRS AGO
ON 14.02.2007, ABOUT 3ISH, GMT
I love to write, I think I am rather good (don’t we all). I do quite a lot on politics, science and philosophy. For a change I recently started writing about sport, football and Spurs in particular, and publishing them on news and fansites.

I had a “last straw” moment the other day and I walked away from the Spurs v ManUtd match after Ronaldo, needlessly, cheated to get a penalty. He is a talented player but he has no class. I thought back to how embarrassed and sickened I was when Zokora did it to Portsmouth in October. I am a fan of football. I am a fan of the English game and I am a fan of Spurs traditional attacking game (if not our current foot-balling style), have been since I was 6 or so.

I realised I was going to end up quitting watching football altogether and I needed to vent. I wrote an article for a fan site and set up a small page about cheating and a proposed idea which might help change it.

The response was immediate and enthusiastic and, since I had the day free, I spent it developing the site, a petition and sending off some letters.

AN EMAIL ADDRESS FOR SPORTSCHEAT (NOT TO BE PUBLISHED) TO CONTACT YOU
Firstly, I apologise for the use of capitals for emphasis in this email. However, to avoid confusion over the central point or points of each paragraph I think that is the best idea until we get to know each other a little better.

I have also titled the paragraphs for easier reference. Let us make sure that whatever disagreements may have that we do not have misunderstandings. That would be a waste of our time. You do not yet know me, so I understand if you refuse but I ASK FOR A PROPER CONTACT EMAIL ADDRESS FOR YOU, FOR FUTURE CONTACT. IT WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED IN ANY WAY. To do so would be self defeating.

THE PATH OF THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHEATING
Second, I appreciate your speedy response. I am sure you have many queries and I do hope this is a sign that you at the FA are taking it as seriously as the fans do. The site has been up less than 36 hours as of 18h00 GMT and with only some small articles about cheating on 4 fan websites we have around 600 hits, over 100 signatories to the petition, 8 contributed articles and volunteer researchers for cheating players (some reporting their own team’s players).

I am not used to “marketing over the internet” but I do write for various sites and that growth for a new, unbranded, non-professionally promoted sports site is a big deal. People really care about this issue. You may well expect to receive hundreds of thousands of emails on this alone as we will, in the next months, be approaching (1) parents groups, (2) schools, (3) sponsors, (4) supporters trusts, (5) internet sports news sites, (6) print media, (7) television, (8) fan sites, (9) weblogs, (10) Television commentators (11) ex-players and (12) current players from all over the world.

The Premiership, after all, is the most watched, richest league in the world which is why I thought it was the place to start (that and I am a fan. Actually- mostly because I am a fan. In fact, you can pretty much scrap those other two points as reasons, they’re really just convenient bonuses, I am doing this because I am a football fan).

A CONTACT POINT FOR THE FANS
To continue, a feedback form is not acceptable for contact. It is more inconvenient and time consuming that an email. UNPUNISHED, BLATANT CHEATING HAS JUST AS DAMAGING PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECT ON SOCIETY AS RACIAL HATRED AND BIGOTRY. People lose any sense of justice.

This is our sport, our game. You, the FA, and FIFA are for us and we appreciate the job you do but we must be allowed easier access to you over this issue. WE WANT A DIRECT EMAIL ADDRESS, NOT A FEEDBACK FORM FOR PEOPLE AGAINST CHEATING. If you do not believe people are disillusioned and upset come and read the comments and the petition. People who have supported teams for 20, 30, 40 years talking of their disgust and revulsion at blatant cheating going unpunished and gentlemanly conduct is, by omission of support, discouraged.

A CONTACT ADDRESS FOR FIFAAND THE IFAB, THEIR WEBSITE IS USELESS
On the subject of email addresses, we do not have one for FIFA where we get anything but an automated response with no next step. That’s it, cut off. Please furnish us with one if you can and also for the IFAB. Many thanks.

OBVIOUS OUTRAGE
One of the reasons for this outrage became shockingly obvious within the first few hours of the site starting. With 250 visitors on the first day our page “acts of sportsmanship” people could remember just ONE TRUE ACT OF SPORTSMANSHIP IN RECENT TIMES, and that back in 2001 by Paolo DiCanio. Is this any example for youth or for society as a whole?

THE RULES OF THE GAME
NATURALLY THE FA CANNOT UNILATERALLY CHANGE THE RULES OF THE GAME, WE UNDERSTAND THAT and do not expect this to be the case. We are also not naïve and know how much power the richest league in the world must hold, just like we know how influential the G14 is.

FULL RULES ONLINE
Could you please make a full list of rules available online, if it already is tell us where. There are many ways to innovate on the use and application of rules, ask any lawyer. CHEATING, FOR INSTANCE, IS SOMETHING THAT INCITES THE FANS. CHEATING BRINGS THE GAME INTO DISREPUTE. Something which you are so desperate to control. I can only know by reading the rules and guidelines on the subject

CHEATING IS CHEATING IS CHEATING
SPORTSCHEAT.ORG DOES NOT DISTINGUISH BETWEEN BLATANT “SIMULATION” BEING CHEATING AND THE MATCH FIXING SCANDALS IN ITALY. In both cases the outcomes of games are affected. In both cases the successful parties gain points and benefit financially. In the Italian case points were deducted by a tribunal. Is there no way to apply those laws more broadly?

“NAME AND SHAME” AND HURT THE BANK BALANCE
Whereas unilateral rule changes are out the FA does, though, MAKE NO ATTEMPT TO STAND PUBLICLY AND BERATE THESE CHEATS BY NAME. That would be a great step forward.

An official FA name-and-shame site called “Cheats in the English Football Game” would be a start, I am sure fans would love to support it. Such a site would impact negatively on players’ and teams’ worth to sponsors and change behaviours. You know this true. Would the FA have such courage? Where the money goes the clubs and players will follow.

Cheats, after all, do not deserve the same remuneration as honest players.

DOES THE FA SUPPORT THESE PRINCIPLES?
Do you, The FA, support these principles (similar to those being sent to every club chairman and manager) that follow? If not, why not? What is your plan that will work better?
Does the FA:
(1) want to kick cheating out of football?
(2) believe that blatant cheating in football should not go unpunished.
(3) believe that blatant cheating by players should result in a 5 match suspension.
(4) believe that blatant cheating by players should result in a deduction of 3 points from that player’s team.

Remember, this is about principles, not how complicated they may be to enact or enforce. Oddly enough those two are actually the easier parts to deal with once people decide they want something. The fans want this. It is OUR game.

SPORTSCHEAT.ORG DOES NOT SUPPORT ALTERING THE OUTCOME OF GAMES
Your statement that “The FA does not support the introduction of a system of post-game analysis that changes the results of games once they’d finished” is absolutely correct and we agree. It would destroy the immediacy of the drama and the entertaining experience. I am a businessman, I get this. So do the fans, they are football smart, they love the game.

DEDUCTION OF POINTS FROM TEAMS FOR THE INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS OF THEIR PLAYERS IS NOT ALTERING THE OUTCOME OF A MATCH, THE SCORE STILL STANDS. The winning team gets 3 points. The losing team none. POINTS ARE THEN DEDUCTED FROM THE TEAM FOR THE BEHAVIOUR OF PLAYERS FOR BLATANT CHEATING. The fact is, you would hardly ever have to do it. If players know they will get caught and any potential benefit to the team null. Likewise the managers would drill honesty into their players and players would immediately tell a ref if they had, for instance, just slipped in the box. The game would be ‘gentlemanly’ again. Kids would have sports stars worth looking to for an example.

SPORTSCHEAT.ORG SUPPORTS ALL MATCH OFFICALS
Your follow up statement to the one above made me angry and was the only fatuous statement in your reply:

”This would be impossible to implement and completely unworkable – more importantly it would fundamentally undermine the role of the Match Officials.”

I sympathise with referees: it is a tough, thankless, job. The referees would jump at this. It is bad rulings due to a player cheating that undermines referees and the respect the players and fans have for them. Managers and players knowing that if a player “simulated” a foul in the box he would get a 5 match ban and 3 points deducted from his team means it would happen less often, if ever (as mentioned previously in “we do not wish to alter the outcome of games”).

I would be surprised if you could find any referees who would be against it. I have read about 5 interviews with referees in the past 24 hours and they want help and backup. They are sick of being vilified for missing stuff. Cheats make their lives harder.

By the way, at least 10 people have written to me from the site and suggested, individually, that ANY PLAYER APPROACHING WITHIN 3 FEET OF A REFEREE OR ASSISTANT REFEREE AFTER THE WHISTLE HAS BLOWN FOR AN INFRACTION SHOULD GET AN IMMEDIATE RED CARD. With only the captains and any player summoned allowed to approach. It turns out the fans want the referees protected. I think that it is a fantastic idea and would only result in a very brief spike in the red card count.

OUR PROPOSALS ARE A SUPPORT MECHANISM FOR REFEREES. WE WANT TO MAKE THEIR LIVES EASIER.

COST
There is absolutely no way you will convince anyone, ever, anywhere that you cannot afford it.

RESISTANCE FROM CLUBS
I would assume that clubs would welcome this. If there is any resitance then that’s what the fans and SPORTSCHEAT.ORG are here for. To help put pressure on them through the will of their own supporters. It all comes down to branding and, thereby, money for the clubs, after all. I think that if the fans show they want it then the clubs will go for it.

THE NEXT IFAB MEETING
Please send me as much information as you can on this:

“The next IFAB meeting takes place next month. You may be interested to know that agenda items include presentations on goal-line technology, the use of pitch side TV monitors and video technology.”

Thank you.

HOW THE FA CAN HELP THE FANS AND SPORTSCHEAT.ORG
(1) Please give me a mail address to contact you, it will not be published.
(2) Please set up that email address for people who want to write in against cheating. I set up SPORTSCHEAT.ORG today for 20 quid in 20 minutes. And that’s a new website registered. A new email box will take tech about 2 minutes. I know: it’s the clearance to do it that takes a bit of time.
(3) Please give us working email contacts for FIFA and IFAB.
(4) If you could furnish us with the email addresses for the Premiership clubs it will save hours of research time. So far I have Spurs, Newcastle and West Ham.
(5) Help us with media contacts and to contact players who would be interested in lending their name, again it will save research time.

THE FA AND SPORTSCHEAT.ORG RELATIONSHIP
I am convinced that FIFA and the FA have the best interests of the continuing prosperity of football.
I am convinced that as soon as FIFA and the FA hear how much the fans want this they will expedite it.
I am convinced that SPORTSCHEAT.ORG and the FA will have a good, open relationship.

PERSONAL
I wouldn’t mind knowing, if you have no objection, who I am dealing with. Bear in mind I do publish these on the website so if you don’t want a personal paragraph published just say so. Are you a football fan? Who do you support? How did you wind up at the FA? British? Married? Age? Whatever. Communication is easiest when you know a bit about someone.

A FINAL WORD…OR TWO
I love capitalism. It’s under 48 hours since this accidentally started and I have already been approached by 2 merchandising companies who want to do “Kick Cheating” football gear. Both asked the same question: do we know if the FA would officially back the campaign to KICK CHEATING OUT OF SPORT?

Also, please let me know if there is a trademark attached to “Kick Racism out of Football” and who to contact to smooth over us doing something with similar wording or we will have to change it.

Sincerely

*midnightjester*

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One Response to “2007.02.15 sportscheat.org letter to the FA 03”


  1. […] 'Courier', monospace; cursor:pointer; padding-right:5px;} WERDERBLOG.NETSpirit Soul Mix Archivesportscheat.org . . . . by fans, for fans […]


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