Peter Young
27 December 2002
England Football Online
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Comment: A New Low for the F.A.

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Its Charges Against Mark Bosnich Bring It Disrepute

The Football Association made formal charges against Mark Bosnich today for his alleged cocaine use--breaching the F.A.'s doping regulations and bringing the game into disrepute--following tests which are claimed to have shown cocaine in his system at least twice, and it announced he was suspended from all football activities pending a hearing, as yet unscheduled.  The F.A. says it "would not normally make any public statements at this stage of a case of this type," but "in view of numerous media reports over the past few weeks the situation required clarification." 

With all due respect--and only that which is due, which is none in this matter--the F.A. is sadly mistaken in acting as if it were prosecuting Bosnich.  Anyone,  including a footballer,  who has a drug problem has deep personal  problems, and pressing formal charges against him merely for his drug use is highly likely to acerbate them.  Any organisation possessing any sensibility and sensitivity at all recognises that drug dependency or abuse is an emotional and medical problem.   

Although the F.A.  is  normally  at least  half a century behind  the times  in  coming  to  grips  with reality, common decency should  compel it to follow more humane procedures in such cases than publicly charging a man who, by all accounts, is confronting a severe personal crisis. Why not call such a player in for private consultation and, if he agrees, simply announce that he  is taking a leave of  absence for medical reasons and  will not take part in football until fit?  It will come out in the relentlessly inquiring press, of course, that  the medical reasons are drug-related, but nothing could  possibly justify subjecting such a player to formal charges if he has agreed to undergo drug rehabilitation and refrain from football until  his treatment is completed.

We believe  the F.A. is attempting to recoup lost ground after recent  widespread criticism of its well-known failure to conduct drug  tests in enforcing  regulations against drug use in the game.   Having at last conducted some tests which allegedly produced a violator, the  F.A. is apparently bent on making an example of him to dispel charges that it has been  lax in this area.   

The Bosnich announcement was given top play on the F.A. website's  home page,  as if nothing more important was happening in English football.   Furthermore,  the  F.A. kept the story  at  the  top of its  website's news page  for more  than a  week,  the first time  it  had  ever given  a story play  for  more  than  two or  three  days.   The F.A.'s  public relations are apparently deemed more important than decent  treatment which might well aid the recovery of a player, a human being but also, conveniently, an Australian.  As England's  footballers try to do much better against the Aussies at home than their  cricketers did Down Under in  the Ashes, we would have expected the slightest bow to diplomacy would compel even the dullards at the F.A. to display a bit of decency.

The F.A. has lied about its promise to support Germany's World Cup 2006 bid, has cheated parents buying  replica England  shirts for their children through a price-fixing scheme,  has bribed officials from other countries to support its own obviously doomed World  Cup 2006 hosting bid,  has refused to account for government funds given  it for the new Wembley Stadium,  has gouged England supporters left and right and failed to provide them the service they have paid for.  We could go on  and on.  But the F.A's disgraceful mistreatment of Bosnich strikes a new low for an organisation which has shown it will do almost anything to promote its own interests.  

One thing we do know  is that no player with a drug problem will now  look to the F.A. for help.  For the sake of saving its own face, the F.A.  has now ensured  that players  with  drug  problems will  not voluntarily come forward.    Obviously the F.A. has taken to  heart the words of the well-known wife of a U.S.A.  President,  Nancy Reagan,  whose imbecilic message  was  that  all we need to do to conquer the drug problem is "Just say no,"  and the equally idiotic program her husband  engineered,  the  "War  on Drugs" which  has  sent  hundreds  of  thousands  into prison  but  failed to make the slightest dent in drug abuse.    The  his-and-her Reaganite  tonic, not surprisingly to anyone with an iota of sense, didn't  work, and neither will  the F.A's.   The Football Association shamed  itself today and  brought itself into disrepute.