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FIFA stole football from England - Richards

March 14, 2012
Sir Dave Richards has accused FIFA of stealing football from England © PA Photos

Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards has launched a fearsome rant at UEFA and FIFA, who he has accused of stealing the game from the English.

Richards was speaking at a sports and security conference where he was sharing a panel with FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan and International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat.

The former Sheffield Wednesday chairman is also a member of the Football Association's board and his strong comments are sure to attract international attention.

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

Richards was reminded by Hussein that the origins of the game are still disputed, with China and England both laying claim to have invented it. But Richards was in no doubt.

He replied: "It started in Sheffield 150 years ago. We started the game and wrote the rules and took it the world. The Chinese may say they own it but the British own it and we gave it to the rest of the world."

The Premier League immediately disassociated themselves with Richards' comments saying: "Sir Dave is attending the conference in a private and personal capacity; his comments in no way reflect the views of the Premier League."

After Richards' had expressed his views Hussein made the point that football is now owned by the globe and not just an individual country, saying: "The point I'm trying to make is the whole world loves the sport and it is the most popular sport.

"We have to continue to work on developing it and obviously competing and helping our youth."

Richards was at the conference to talk about new frontiers in sport with the Premier League now truly a global competition that is watched by millions around the world.

Lorgat, who has been an advocate of taking cricket to new regions added: "This exchange could well have taken place in the cricket boardroom about who owns the game. It is less about ownership and more about of what is good for the game."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.