Today, our CSO did something that is, in the context of his life, entirely unpredictable: he tuned into the BBC News Channel (‘BBCNC’). Long overtaken by competitors such as Al Jazeera English in the realm of providing vaguely relevant and objective information, the BBCNC is presently rarely anything other than a channel of limited – and limiting – conversations, a reality punctured only by the occasional accidental gem; the introduction of the legendary Alessio Rastani onto the world stage is, in this context, never far from the forefront of our minds.
So just why did Asad Yawar do the unthinkable? Because the BBCNC was carrying a live feed from the 12:00 GMT Football Association (‘FA‘) press conference, a convention called to elaborate on the murky resignation of Fabio Capello, England’s now erstwhile Gorizia-born manager who vacated his position just four months prior to the beginning of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship. Prior to the press conference, few seemed entirely certain of the reasons for Capello’s departure; with England having qualified at the head of Group G and then placed in a relatively straightforward finals pool together with France, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine, there was much expectation amongst some sections of the English media that some kind of impact could – and should – be made by a team that has made a habit of disappointing its public.
Ironically, post-conference no one was really any the wiser as to the logic behind the exit of the sophisticated and lavishly decorated Italian; the shroud of confidentiality was made full use of by David Bernstein, the Chairman of the Football Association who chaired the conference with amiable reasonableness. We were repeatedly reminded by Bernstein of his personal inability to ‘read Fabio’s mind’; his colleagues chimed in with platitudes about the success of the Spanish national football team, the need for a vision stretching to 2018 and beyond, and their commitment to the collective decision of accepting Capello’s resignation.
But in terms of the long-term prospects for English football, one thing could be perceived with absolute clarity by the conference’s conclusion: the Football Association still regards itself as reigning supreme, regardless of the ultimate consequences for the England national team. Capello’s ‘crime’ of speaking his mind – apparently diplomatically and with his usual intelligence – about the controversial captaincy issue was deemed to have breached FA protocol, and that in itself was fatal. The fact that England are bereft of both off-and on-field leaders just 120 days from the kick-off of a major tournament has been deemed secondary; the pre-1947 days when the English team was selected by a committee of bureaucrats appear never to have left us.