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Matthew Wright
Matthew Wright

Football Association


The Football Association (known by its abbreviation The FA) is the governing body of association football in England and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory.




football association



The FA facilitates all competitive football matches within its remit at national level, and indirectly at local level through the county football associations. It runs numerous competitions, the most famous of which is the FA Cup. It is also responsible for appointing the management of the men's, women's, and youth national football teams.


The FA is a member of both UEFA and FIFA and holds a permanent seat on the International Football Association Board (IFAB) which is responsible for the Laws of the Game. As the first football association, it does not use the national name "English" in its title. The FA is based at Wembley Stadium, London. The FA is a member of the British Olympic Association, meaning that the FA has control over the men's and women's Great Britain Olympic football team.[1]


All of England's professional football teams are members of the Football Association. Although it does not run the day-to-day operations of the Premier League, it has veto power over the appointment of the league chairman and chief executive and over any changes to league rules.[2] The English Football League, made up of the three fully professional divisions below the Premier League, is self-governing, subject to the FA's sanctions.


Charterhouse sent their captain, B.F. Hartshorne, but declined the offer to join.[10] Many of these clubs are now defunct or play rugby union. Civil Service FC, who now plays in the Southern Amateur League, is the only one of the original eleven football clubs still in existence and playing association football,[4] although Forest School has been a member since the fifth meeting in December 1863 and Crystal Palace and Wanderers have been refounded.


At the final meeting, F. M. Campbell, the first FA treasurer and the Blackheath representative, withdrew his club from the FA over the removal of two draft rules at the previous meeting, the first which allowed for the running with the ball in hand and the second, obstructing such a run by hacking (kicking an opponent in the shins), tripping and holding. Other English rugby clubs followed this lead and did not join the FA but instead in 1871 formed the Rugby Football Union.[3] The term "soccer" dates back to this split to refer to football played under the "association" rules. After six clubs had withdrawn as they supported the opposing Rugby Rules, the Football Association had just nine members in January 1864: Barnes, Kilburn, Crystal Palace, War Office (Civil Service), Forest Club, Forest School, Sheffield, Uppingham and Royal Engineers (Chatham).[12]


An inaugural game using the new FA rules was initially scheduled for Battersea Park on 2 January 1864, but enthusiastic members of the FA could not wait for the new year: the first game under F. A. rules was played at Mortlake on 19 December 1863 between Morley's Barnes team and their neighbours Richmond (who were not members of the FA), ending in a goalless draw. The Richmond side were obviously unimpressed by the new rules in practice because they subsequently helped form the Rugby Football Union in 1871. The Battersea Park game was the first exhibition game using FA rules, and was played there on Saturday 9 January 1864.[13] The members of the opposing teams for this game were chosen by the President of the FA (A. Pember) and the Secretary (E. C. Morley) and included many well-known footballers of the day.[14] After the first match according to the new FA rules a toast was given "Success to football, irrespective of class or creed".[15]


After many years of wrangling between the London-based Football Association and the Sheffield Football Association, the FA Cup brought the acceptance that one undisputed set of laws was required. The two associations had played 16 inter-association matches under differing rules; the Sheffield Rules, the London Rules and Mixed Rules. In April 1877, those laws were set with a number of Sheffield Rules being incorporated. In 1890 Arthur Kinnaird replace Major Francis Marindin, becoming the fourth president of the Football Association. Kinnaird had at that time been a FA committeeman since the age of 21, in 1868. Kinnaird remained president for the next 33 years, until his death in 1923.


In 1992, the Football Association took control of the newly created Premier League which consisted of 22 clubs who had broken away from the First Division of the Football League. The Premier League reduced to 20 clubs in 1995 and is one of the richest football leagues in the world.[21]


By 1921 women's football had become increasingly popular through the charitable games played by women's teams during and after the First World War. In a move that was widely seen as caused by jealousy of the crowds' interest in women's games which frequently exceeded that of the top men's teams, in 1921 the Football Association banned all women's teams from playing on grounds affiliated to the FA because they thought football damaged women's bodies.[24][25]


For several decades this decision meant that women's football virtually ceased to exist. It only reversed from 1969 when, after the increased interest in football caused by England's 1966 World Cup triumph, the Women's Football Association was founded,[26] although it would take a further two years - and an order from UEFA - to force the (men's) Football Association to remove its restrictions on the playing rights of women's teams.[27] It was not until 1983 that the WFA was able to affiliate to the FA as a "County Association" and only in 1993 did the FA found the "Women's Football Committee" to run women's football in England.[28]


In mid-November 2016, allegations of widespread historical sexual abuse at football clubs dating back to the 1970s began to emerge. On 21 November, the Football Association said it would set up a helpline;[39] this was established with the NSPCC and opened on 24 November,[40] reportedly receiving over 50 calls within the first two hours,[41] over 100 by 27 November,[42] and 860 ("more than three times as many referrals as in the first three days of the Jimmy Savile scandal") by 1 December[43] with 350 individuals alleging abuse.[44] The FA and NSPCC also collaborated to produce a film about how to keep children safe in the sport, featuring the captains of England's men's, women's and cerebral palsy football teams (Wayne Rooney, Steph Houghton and Jack Rutter).[45]


On 27 November, the FA announced it was to set up an internal review, led by independent counsel Kate Gallafent QC, into what Crewe and Manchester City knew about convicted child sex offender Barry Bennell and allegations of child sexual abuse in football, and investigate what information it was aware of at the time of the alleged offences.[46]


The FA was criticised by Conservative MP Damian Collins, chairman of the House of Commons' Culture, Media and Sport Committee, for being too slow in reacting and not instigating a wider review.[47] Former sport minister Gerry Sutcliffe talked of previous concern about how the FA dealt with governance of the sport and with youth development (in the 1990s, the FA was said to have reacted "dismissively" to worries about sexual abuse in the game, and too slow to implement criminal record checks;[48] in 2003, the FA had scrapped a project meant to ensure children were being protected from sexual abuse;[49] and FA officials had been uncooperative with the review project, with ten of 14 FA staff not replying to interview requests and a report by the researchers of others being "prevented/bullied" from talking).[50] Sutcliffe said an independent body, such as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport should look at the issue rather than the FA investigating itself: "What I've seen in football over the years is that they're very narrow, very insular, and may not do a proper job even though with the right intentions."[51]


On 6 December 2016, the FA announced that, due to "the increased scope of the review since it was announced"[52] and Gallafent's other professional commitments, the review would be conducted by Clive Sheldon QC.[53] On 11 January 2017, the Sheldon review had made its first call for evidence, writing to all football clubs in England and Wales, amateur and professional, asking for information by 15 March about allegations of child sexual abuse between 1970 and 2005.[54] In March 2018, it was reported that the scale of evidence provided, plus the "chaotic nature of the archiving", had delayed the inquiry team's sift through the FA's legal files; around 500,000 pages of material from 6,000 files were uploaded to a digital platform, and 353 documents were identified as highly relevant. Sheldon expected to start writing his final report in August 2018.[55]


In July 2018, it was reported that the FA's independent inquiry had found no evidence of an institutional cover-up or of a paedophile ring operating within football. Sheldon's report, likely to be highly critical of several clubs, was initially expected to be delivered to the FA in September 2018,[56] but its publication was delayed, potentially by up to a year, pending the retrial of Bob Higgins and possible further charges against Barry Bennell.[57]


The 700-page report was eventually published on 17 March 2021. It identified failures to act adequately on complaints or rumours of sexual abuse at eight professional clubs: Aston Villa, Chelsea, Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Peterborough, Southampton and Stoke City.[58] The report also made 13 recommendations for further improvements, including clubs employing qualified safeguarding officers, an FA board member to be the designated "children's safeguarding champion", spot checks of amateur clubs, a "national day of safeguarding in football" and an annual safeguarding report. However, the measures were criticised for being too late and lacking ambition. The FA issued a "heartfelt apology" to survivors and said it would be implementing all of Sheldon's recommendations.[58] 041b061a72


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