Sports

English Premier League boss explains FIFA remark

Manchester United chief executive David Gill (2nd L) and Premier League chairman David Richards (2nd R) arrive at the Asian Football Confederation House in Bukit Jalil, near Kuala Lumpur May 23, 2007. — Reuters picManchester United chief executive David Gill (2nd L) and Premier League chairman David Richards (2nd R) arrive at the Asian Football Confederation House in Bukit Jalil, near Kuala Lumpur May 23, 2007. — Reuters picLONDON, March 16 — English Premier League chairman Dave Richards tried to explain yesterday his comments about football's world governing body FIFA "stealing" the game from the British, saying he had not meant to cause offence.

"First of all I'd like to clarify something. I'm a Yorkshireman and I'm quite broad (spoken)," he told Sky Sports News. "If I say something it can be taken a little out of context.

"I was asked about the heritage of the game. I would never want to offend FIFA or UEFA," added Richards who also issued a statement apologising for Wednesday's outburst.

"I used a word which, looking back, is probably inappropriate. But it is the way I am.

"I put a statement out last night and I have also sent a private email to the president of FIFA and the president of UEFA saying I apologise because I never intended to cause any stir at all."

Richards was in Doha - site of the 2022 World Cup - when he criticised FIFA for not making clear which region they wanted to host the finals before countries wasted money on expensive losing bids.

England was beaten by Russia for the right to host the 2018 finals.

Hotel fountain

Richards, who stumbled and fell into a hotel fountain on Wednesday, caused a stir when he said England had given football to the world "then 50 years later some guy came along and said, 'You're liars', and they actually stole it. It was called FIFA".

He went on to say European governing body UEFA then "stole a bit more".

However, Richards back-tracked from those remarks yesterday.

"We were talking about heritage and legacy and England has given a wonderful legacy to the world on the game," Richards told Sky Sports News.

"It (England) gave them the game and I am terrifically proud of that. But I also recognise UEFA and FIFA have done a magnificent job over the years in changing things and there has got to be change. I recognise that."

FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein issued a statement in response, saying he had "total respect for the FA and English football for their contribution to world football".

"I look forward to working together with the FA to strengthen the partnership and cooperation between the FA and Asia," he added. — Reuters