LONDON (Reuters) - Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has rejected accusations his organisation are to blame for England’s failures at major tournaments and questioned the role of the English Football Association and government.
The Premier League has long been blamed for England’s failure to add to their one World Cup win in 1966, with many pundits and former players bothered by the lack of Englishmen playing for the top clubs in the division.
England manager Roy Hodgson has also been left unhappy by two Premier League fixture changes just before England face Moldova and Ukraine in two important World Cup qualifiers in September.
The matches, Liverpool v Manchester United and Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur, have been moved back a day from August31 to September1 for live television coverage and will be played just five days before England play Moldova at Wembley.
Speaking at the Premier League Asian Trophy in Hong Kong, and quoted in Monday’s British newspapers, Scudamore offered a sharp reply when asked if he was upset by the widely held view that the Premier League is culpable for England’s failure.
“It frustrates me enormously because it is so palpably not true. We are putting on a competition that the best players in the world want to come here and play in,” he said.
”The whole thing seems to me that if England don’t win something it is someone else’s fault. I have never, in my 15 years with the Premier League, never said the Premier League’s success, or lack of, is someone else’s fault. You have to make it yourself.
”Let’s run the reverse argument. Where does that leave the people at the FA in terms of their accountability? It can’t be our fault.
”It is bigger than us. It is not the Premier League who ripped up the playing fields. It is not the Premier League that didn’t put the education into schools that the government should have done. That is not the Premier League’s fault.
“Clearly, we have a job to do. We have not won the World Cup since 1966. We didn’t start until 1992. What happened between 1966 and 1992? Whose fault was that? The whole thing is immensely frustrating. It cannot be our fault on any level.”
Scudamore also expressed his worries that the 2022 World Cup will be moved from the European summer to winter months because of the intense heat in Qatar, thus disrupting his league.
Earlier this month, FIFA Sepp Blatter reiterated his concerns over a summer World Cup saying it should be moved to the winter with the FIFA executive committee meeting to discuss the issue in October.
Scudamore is totally opposed to the idea.
”I‘m not going to say I think it will happen because I‘m still working the best I can, garnering enough support, a groundswell of support, to make sure it doesn’t happen in winter.
”We do want to have it in summer - the summer is the right time.
“If Qatar is unable to hold a proper tournament in the summer for fans then it should be put on somewhere else is my simple view.”
Qatar beat Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States in a vote to host soccer’s showpiece in the summer.
Qatar’s bid involved building a number of air conditioned stadiums to tackle the searing temperatures and the tiny gulf state has long said they were ready to host the World Cup in winter if required.
Scudamore suggested moving the tournament.
“My view is if you can’t actually meet the criteria of looking after the fans, if that is what Mr Blatter is now saying, then you should take it somewhere else where they can look after the fans,” Scudamore said.
”When the technical bid book went in, it had to go through everything, like fan experience. The idea the technical committee did not know people were going to be exposed to that heat is crazy. If Mr Blatter says it is not right for the fans he should move it.
“The world has a calendar that’s geared around finding those two months every four years in the summer to have the World Cup,” he said. “To alter it to a different time of year messes up everybody’s calendar, not just ours.”
Scudamore said it was too early for the Premier League or other FA’s or Leagues to consider legal action but did not rule it out.
“That’s something that is far too contentious really. It’s not a very edifying prospect is it? Taking on FIFA, the world governing body. At the end of the day we’ll do our lobbying, our work, but it’s far too premature to think of legal action.”
Reporting by Mike Collett. Editing by Patrick Johnston