They Also Serve, Those That Stand And Eat Canapes

Last updated : 23 June 2007 By Ed_ScottishFitba
Scotland are sending a 13 strong delegation of officials, along with the 21 players, to Canada for the Under 20s World Cup. Seven of the non-playing travellers will be working directly with the team, such as coaches Archie Gemmill and Tommy Wilson, the team doctor, physio and kit man. Others like the video technician and press officer will be busy supporting the team (taping training for coaching sessions and keeping the media happy). This leaves three 'blazers' who will be doing the 'meet and greet' round of official functions that goes alongside the playing of football. While some may ask why send anybody apart from those directly helping the team, you have to remember that tournaments like the World Cup provide the opportunity to win friends and influence people.

The ones with the easy game to play

Scotland need to try to do both at international level after the John McBeth affair. McBeth, the former president of the SFA, was accused of racism and "pure bigotry" and lost his new role with FIFA before he had the chance to take office. The former Clyde chairman was due to become Britain's new FIFA vice-president, but controversial remarks made by McBeth at a press briefing led to him being hauled in front of FIFA's ethics committee and the job offer withdrawn. There could be suspicions in FIFA that McBeth was the fall guy for generally held views in Scotland. The delegation will have to show that is not the case.

Delegations from other countries will be there to support their players and also raise their countries profile on the world stage. The FIFA family is one that can be split easily into factions when a misplaced word or deed is reported. If we want Scotland to still have their voice listened to in the corridors of FIFA's Geneva HQ, there will always be a need to represent the countries interest on the 'cocktails at six' trail. With so many countries jealous of Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales separate identities in footballing terms and influence, the SFA have to play the game well off the field as well.
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)

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