It is hard to take Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards seriously, not just because he is shockingly naive for a man who represents the most successful domestic football competition on the planet, but because he has the aura of a real-life Mr Bean.
For anyone with a sense of humour it was deliciously poetic that the blundering buffoon was caught on film when he tripped into a water feature on his way to dinner in Qatar after insulting the rest of the world with his comments that FIFA and UEFA had “stolen football” from England.
Richards claimed his comments were misunderstood and he has issued a public apology. But the joke was on him at the International Sport Security Conference when he fell onto his hands and knees in a fountain pool. Richards, who denied he had been drinking, also warned his hosts that football fans from England and Germany visiting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar “have a culture and we call it ‘we would like to go for a pint’.”
“My comments on the heritage of the game were intended to be light-hearted,” insists Richards. “They clearly have not come across in that way and I sincerely regret making them and any resulting negativity that may have been interpreted towards Fifa and Uefa. I will be writing to both organisations in these terms.”
Speaking at the conference in Doha, Qatar, Richards said: “England gave the world football. It gave the best legacy anyone could give. We gave them the game.
“Then, 50 years later, some guy came along and said, you’re liars, and they actually stole it. It was called FIFA.
“Fifty years later, another gang came along called UEFA and stole a bit more.”
Richards’ views were challenged by FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Hussein, who suggested that the Chinese invented football.