When is an international match, not an international match? Answer, when Fifa and the FA stick their great big oars in.
Today we are told that England’s recent game in Port of Spain, a match to celebrate the centenary of Trinidad and Tobago’s Football Federation, may be downgraded from a full international as England made one more substitution than they were permitted to.
Fifa insist that only six subs were allowed, England made 7. The FA says it thought that the increased number of substitutions had been pre-agreed.
Talk about a storm in a T & T cup.
This could be bad news for a number of players. Gareth Barry’s first England goal could be taken away from him while Dean Ashton, Joe Hart, Phil Jagielka and Stephen Warnock could all be stripped of their first caps.
A Fifa spokesman said: “We can confirm that Fifa did not give special dispensation to make up to seven substitutions at the Trinidad and Tobago versus England match.
“We have spoken internally at Fifa about the matter and nobody allowed this to happen.”
However, the FA is under the impression such a decision had been agreed – and it is believed it had originally asked to make 11 changes.
The interesting thing here is the language being used by both sides.
Fifa’s “we have spoken internally” sounds like a few desperate calls have been made round the office to see if anyone knows what on earth is going on. As for the FA assuming that a deal had been done, well we all know that assumption is the mother of all foul up’s. And that’s being polite.
It’s astonishing that a side like England can fly half way round the world, play in a specially arranged game, award new caps, give David Beckham the captaincy with the hosts selling the rights to live TV whilst neither the FA or Fifa have, it seems, got a piece a paper with the rules written on it. Your local school fete is probably better organized than that. Even the dodgy looking coconut shy.
More bad news for England is that if Fifa decrees the match should not be counted as a full international, Fabio Capello’s side would also slip back down the official world rankings, having moved up two places and regained a place in the top 10 after their 3 – 0 victory.
Of course, Fifa will have that written down somewhere as the world rankings are really important in the grand scheme of things, aren’t they.