FOOTBALL ETHICS UNDER ATTACK
A SCATHING attack on football clubs which "appear to operate in a moral vacuum" was launched by Daily Mail City Editor, Alex Brummer this week. Brummer, along with Arsenal and Football Association Vice Chairman David Dein and Manchester City FC Chairman David Bernstein, was speaking at a football seminar organised by the Jewish Association for Business Ethics (JABE) at Lord's on Tuesday, and was highly critical of the Football League's contract with the failed ITV Digital company.
"Everyone felt that ITV Digital had overpaid the Football League. When you consider that only six million watched the FA Cup Final last Saturday, how many would be willing to watch lower division games? The Football League should have realised when they negotiated the contract � it would have been a good idea if they had signed the contract too � that it was not viable.
"No one comes out of this with any credit. Football appears to operate in a moral vacuum, in which no one really cares how the money is spent."
Another panel member, during the evening entitled �Football: A Business Without Ethics?�, Jonathan Metliss, Head of the Sports Business Group at lawyers SJ Berwin, was concerned that racism was on the increase again in football. He cited three recent clubs � Celtic, Kettering and Millwall � where there had been racist incidents.
"Racist chanting doesn't go away," he said, "and it is unacceptable in the year 2002 in a supposedly advanced and moral society."
Metliss said that at a recent Chelsea-Spurs game he had heard chants of "gas chamber" and "Hitler's going to do it again". He said football, including some club Chairmen, stewards and police, was not doing enough to weed out those who chanted obscenities and racist and anti-Semitic remarks.
But the two football club representatives present � Arsenal Vice Chairman David Dein and Manchester City Chairman David Bernstein � both defended football's ethical record.
Bernstein remarked: "There is an insatiable demand for football which is part sport and part showbiz. I believe it does have ethics and is a force for good in the community. Most football clubs are a shining light in their community." He went on to say that he felt there was "a negligible amount of corruption" in a game which was "highly regulated".
On agents, Dein said there were good ones and bad ones. "I deal with agents all the time and there are the good guys and there are the bad guys." He said the bad agents would eventually be rooted out. "At Arsenal, we operate a code of conduct with agents which is a non-poaching agreement. They sign a document that they (the agent) will not try to take a player away. It is important that football is regulated because it gives so much entertainment, so much fun."
Rabbi Shlomo Levin, a Professional Mediator, said that footballers have a duty to be role models, particularly to the young and impressionable members of society. "A footballer has a unique skill that makes him different from other human beings. But there is a danger that that single skill is magnified so much that failures in other spheres are overlooked. We should be obliged to look at the whole person, especially when these people are incredibly powerful role models."
JABE Executive Director Lorraine Spector introduced the panellists and Stephen Zimmerman, JABE vice chairman, produced the vote of thanks.