Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards has apologised after claiming that Fifa and Uefa had “stolen” football from England during a conference in Qatar where he fell into a fountain.
Sir Dave, who was taken to hospital in Doha for checks, told the conference: “For 50 years, we owned the game, we were the governance of the game. We wrote the rules and designed the pitches.
“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.”
The Premier League and Football Association have distanced themselves from the comments, stressing that Sir Dave attended the event in a personal capacity.
Some guy came along and actually stole it. It was called Fifa. Fifty years later, another gang came along called Uefa and stole a bit more – Sir Dave Richards
He apologised for any offence caused by the remarks at the International Sport Security Conference, saying he had intended to be “light-hearted”.
“I would like to apologise for any offence caused. It is important to clarify that I was expressing my personal views and not those of any organisation I represent,” he said in a statement.
“My comments on the heritage of the game were intended to be light-hearted. They clearly have not come across in that way and I sincerely regret making them and any resulting negativity that may have been interpreted towards Fifa and Uefa. I will be writing to both organisations in these terms.”
Sir Dave had also told the conference that Qatar must makes the sale of beer freely available at the 2022 World Cup.
In our country and Germany we have a culture, and we call it ‘we’d like to go for a pint’ and that pint is a pint of beer – Sir Dave Richards
Talking about Qatar’s hosting of the tournament, he said: “The big downside is the weather…but knowing you guys, you’ll have temperature controlled stadiums…but there is another thing apart from just playing the game.
“There are thousands and thousands of fans to consider, and you need to look at that, because in our country and Germany we have a culture, and we call it ‘we’d like to go for a pint’ and that pint is a pint of beer. And it is our culture as much as it is your culture not drinking and there’s got to be a happy medium.”
At the conference at the Museum of Islamic Art, Richards stumbled and fell into a fountain pool, hurting a leg in the fall.
Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, who was with Richards at the time, said: “I was on the way to dinner with Sir Dave at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. We were walking across to our table in a dark courtyard area. There were three fountain areas nearby, no pool.
“They had switched off the lights. He thought he was stepping on to flat marble, but his foot went down into the water, he fell over and hurt his leg quite badly. Any suggestions he had a drink is nonsense. It’s a dry place.”