Picture the scene, it’s a FIFA and UEFA security conference in Qatar and Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards has just laid into the officials present, accusing them of “stealing” football from the English.
Speaking in Doha on Wednesday, Sir Dave also attacked China for their claim of having invented football and informed the Qataris that they had their “heads in the sand” over alcohol restrictions at Qatar 2022.
“England gave the world football. It gave the best legacy anyone could give. We gave them the game. […]
“For 50 years, we owned the game … we were the governance of the game. We wrote the rules, designed the pitches and everything else.
“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. […]
“In our country and in Germany, we have a culture. We call it, ‘We would like to go for a pint’, and that pint is a pint of beer.
“It is our culture as much as your culture [in Qatar] is not drinking. There has to be a happy medium.”
The Premier League were quick to distance themselves from his comments:
Sir Dave is attending the conference in a private and personal capacity; his comments in no way reflect the views of the Premier League.
— Premier League (@PLSpokesman) March 14, 2012
But then, Richards fell into a water feature at the Museum of Islamic Art before being helped out by the Bolton chairman, Phil Gartside.
Gartside told BBC Sport:
“I was on the way to dinner with Sir Dave at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. We were walking across to our table in a dark courtyard area. There were three fountain areas nearby, no pool.
“They had switched off the lights. He thought he was stepping on to flat marble, but his foot went down into the water, he fell over and hurt his leg quite badly. Any suggestions he had a drink is nonsense. It’s a dry place.”
Sir Dave has apologised for his outburst and blamed his background for his outspoken nature. He told Sky Sports News:
“I’d like to clarify something – I am a Yorkshireman and I am quite broad and if I say something it can be taken out of a little bit of context.
“I was asked about the heritage of the game, I would never want to offend Fifa or Uefa. I used a word which was, looking back, probably inappropriate but it is the way I am. […]
“I just want to say I apologise, it was a comment that probably another person would not have made but I am a little bit broad and I accept that.”