I'm a Yorkshireman! Richards admits he was 'a little broad' after rant at FIFA was followed by splash into hotel pool
11:20 GMT, 15 March 2012
Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards has apologised again for claiming that FIFA and UEFA had 'stolen' football from England – and admitted sometimes he is a 'little bit broad'.
Richards embarrassed the Football
Association and Premier League on Wednesday by accusing FIFA and UEFA of
stealing the game from the English — and then falling face first into a
fountain pool in his suit.
The incident at a sports conference
in Doha leaves the Premier League chairman and FA vice-chairman
completely isolated, with both governing bodies quickly distancing
themselves from his astonishing Little Englander rant.
Richards issued a statement apologising, and followed that up on Thursday morning with more contrition, although he also tried to blame his background for his outspoken tendencies.
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.
VIDEO: Click here to see Premier League chairman Richards' embarrassing fall into the pool
Making a splash: Sir Dave Richards was filmed falling into the pool
Rant: Premier League Chairman Sir Dave Richards (third from left) claimed FIFA and UEFA had stolen football from England
'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 put out a statement last night and
I have sent a private email to the president of FIFA and the president
of UEFA saying I apologise because I never intended to cause any stir at
'I have also phoned (FIFA general
secretary) Jerome Valcke this morning and apologised to the president
because it wasn't the kind of comment to cause any problem at all.
'What I was talking about is the
heritage of the game, that England has given the legacy to the world. We
were talking about heritage and legacy and England has given a
wonderful legacy to the total world.
'It gave them the game and I am
tremendously proud of that but I also recognise that UEFA and FIFA have
done a magnificent job over the years in changing things and it has got
to be changed and I recognise that.
Theft: Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are the heads of FIFA and UEFA, the organisations Richards has accused of stealing football from England
'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.'
Richards' embarrassment heightened
following the fall in which he hurt a leg. He had it looked at before
being released from hospital.
Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, who
was with Richards at the time, 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.'
Officials said it was unlikely there
would be calls for Richards, 68, to resign, as he is due to stand down
from his hugely influential roles at the end of next season anyway.
Not our view: The Premier League has distanced itself from Richards' comments
Speaking at a sports and security
conference, with FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan
and International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat looking
on, Richards repeatedly reminded his audience the world had England to
thank for football. He said: ‘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.
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.’
then reminded Richards there remains a debate over whether the Chinese
or the English invented the game, but Richards replied with another
rant. With his voice rising, the former Sheffield Wednesday chairman
said: ‘It started in Sheffield 150 years ago. We started the game and
wrote the rules and took it to the world. The Chinese may say they own
it but the British own it and we gave it to the rest of the world.’
Waste of money Richards believes the FA could have saved 19m by not bidding for 2022 World Cup
Privately embarrassed, the Premier
League issued a statement. ‘Sir Dave is attending the conference in a
private and personal capacity and his comments in no way reflect the
views of the Premier League,’ it said, even though Richards was
presented to the conference as ‘chairman of the Premier League’.
FA were also wincing at the news. They said in a statement: ‘Sir Dave
Richards is not representing the FA at this conference and his personal
views are in no way shared or endorsed by the FA.’
to his fall, Richards warned the Qataris that fans may boycott their
World Cup in 2022 if beer is not made freely available. The sale of
alcohol is severely restricted in the Middle Eastern country. Richards
said: ‘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.’