Welsh gag against the English is an ugly own goal

Chief ex­ec­u­tive’s throw­away re­mark about the next man­ager is ac­tu­ally a se­ri­ous er­ror,

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Final Whistle - writes James Cor­ri­gan

The last thing re­quired from a per­son in power is anti-english big­otry and dis­crim­i­na­tion

What is it about seem­ingly in­tel­li­gent men who once held high rank in the mar­ket­ing world swag­ger­ing into sport and pro­ceed­ing to con­cep­tu­alise a whole new brand of dumb?

Jonathan Ford, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion of Wales, has yet even to be­gin to de­scend to the Martin Glenn level of mis­man­age­ment at the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, but at the very least he has shown po­ten­tial this week.

Like Glenn, Ford was some­thing of a “name” in the cor­ri­dors of com­merce, hav­ing risen through the ranks at Coca-cola where, in his own mod­est Linkedin sum­mary, he de­vel­oped into a “world-class busi­ness strate­gist” and “an ac­com­plished com­mu­ni­ca­tor, mo­ti­va­tor and in­spi­ra­tional leader”.

In­deed, since ap­point­ing him in 2009, the FAW has be­come in­creas­ingly cer­tain that, no, “you can’t beat the real thing”, as its an­nual rev­enue has more than dou­bled. That might have more to do with Gareth Bale and their first ma­jor fi­nals in 58 years, than Ford’s “sig­nif­i­cant mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme”, but credit where it is due.

The na­tional team have never been in a bet­ter place, with a loyal sup­port an in­te­gral part of the jour­ney. No doubt, it was with a bow to this hard core that Ford spoke to BBC Wales on Tues­day about the search to re­place Chris Cole­man.

“We’ve al­ways favoured Welsh peo­ple be­cause, ar­guably, the pas­sion is there,” Ford said. “Some­body said this ear­lier, Welsh most def­i­nitely, for­eign pos­si­bly, but def­i­nitely not English.”

Ap­par­ently, Ford could not re­sist re­lay­ing this “gag”. There has been no FAW state­ment yet clar­i­fy­ing the of­fi­cial line, but we have been as­sured that Ford said it “tongue in cheek”. We can only pray this is right. With all the chants in the stands, the last thing re­quired is dis­crim­i­na­tion and anti-english big­otry from a sup­pos­edly re­spon­si­ble per­son in power, even from one brought up in leafy Here­ford­shire.

One would think that some­one with Ford’s track record would have the pre­science to en­vis­age the im­pact of a mes­sage given via a me­dia plat­form, con­sid­er­ing that, erm, was his job. This need­less con­tro­versy could put off can­di­dates who may be very suit­able, de­spite their na­tion­al­ity.

It is a long shot, but Ed­die Howe could find the op­por­tu­nity of coach­ing Bale tempt­ing if he sud­denly de­cides he has had enough of the Premier League. But then, maybe Ford would go search­ing for some an­ces­try to make Howe el­i­gi­ble. He would not nec­es­sar­ily have to be Welsh, just “not English”.

Sam Al­lardyce would qual­ify through his Scot­tish father, Steve Bruce through his Irish mother … this is the ab­sur­dity to which Ford has opened him­self – and, more im­por­tantly, Welsh foot­ball – and it is fair to ques­tion his sagac­ity.

Glenn and oth­ers have long pro­vided sub­stance to the no­tion that sport gives busi­ness far too much re­spect when it comes to head­hunt­ing its “in­spi­ra­tional lead­ers”.

What is OK for bil­lion-dol­lar industries plainly might not be in the mean­ing­less land of ir­rel­e­vant pur­suits.

Ford has done no favours to those of us in­volved in oc­ca­sional so­cial me­dia run-ins with crit­ics claim­ing Welsh suc­cess to be built on con­verted English­men.

Adrian Durham, the en­thu­si­as­tic Talksport host, jumped at Ford’s non­sense, ask­ing: “So, if Ash­ley Wil­liams one day wants the job, they’d say no?” Wil­liams, the Wales cap­tain, was born and raised in the Mid­lands and gets in through a ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther.

Durham had ev­ery right to high­light the hypocrisy, whether it was in jest or not. For Welsh foot­ball, Ford’s “quip” was too close to home on so many dif­fer­ent lev­els.

Pa­triot games: Wales cap­tain Ash­ley Wil­liams was brought up in the Mid­lands

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