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Disputed status of international matches at amateur level

Scholars of the game are advised to read Peter Young’s excellent article on England’s disputed games at full international level.

It’s interesting to note that when David Beckham played against Spain in the recent friendly international between the two countries, all the UK national press noted he equalled Booby Moore’s record of 108 caps.

Not so with FIFA, who has discounted Moore’s appearance for England at Wembley against the Rest of the World played in 1963. According to their records, he has 107 caps.

A similar situation arises at amateur international level too. A lot of old and new publications indicate that England’s amateur football team participated in the Olympic Games of 1908 and 1912, but this is incorrect. The FA’s website also declares “England” winners of the 1912 tournament.

The teams for 1908 and 1912 were in fact Great Britain, and photographic evidence in both tournaments show the team having Union Flag badges on their jerseys. It’s worth noting the 1956 Olympic campaign played as Great Britain – organised and funded by the Football Association – inlcuded only Englishmen due to the other home nations withdrew their support. History is destined to repeat itself for 2012.

In the book – England (1872 – 1940), Eire (1924 – 1940), England/Amateurs (1906 – 1940) – published by the IFFHS in 2000 – has followed the FIFA line. They also describe Great Britian’s Olympic games matches in 1920 and 1936 as “England amateur”, and to be afforded full international status although at the same time noting that Scots, Welsh and Irish nationals played in some of these matches.

Worse still, some of England’s amateur games played against France, Germany and selected European countries prior to 1950 have been given full international status by FIFA, and also in the IFFHS publication.

My book will not record the Olympic games under the England amateur banner and hopefully it will persuade the F.A. to alter their position on the Olympic games matches of 1912, which may be based on incorrect past publications in any case.

I am in complete agreement with Peter Young when he says in the aforementioned article that “The F.A. keeps the official records of the England team, not FIFA, and while FIFA may keep its own records in whatever manner it wants to, it has no authority or power to alter the F.A.’s own records of its own national team.

Put another way, the F.A. is entirely free to record the history of the England team and players according to its own view of that history, and FIFA has neither the authority nor the power to censor the F.A.’s view of its own national team’s history. “

Mark Chapman

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