The Football Association made formal charges against Mark Bosnich today for
his alleged cocaine use--breaching the F.A.'s doping regulations and bringing
the game into disrepute--following tests which are claimed to have shown
cocaine in his system at least twice, and it announced he was suspended from
all football activities pending a hearing, as yet unscheduled. The F.A.
says it "would not normally make any public statements at this stage of a
case of this type," but "in view of numerous media reports over the
past few weeks the situation required clarification."
With all due respect--and only that
which is due, which is none in this matter--the F.A. is sadly mistaken in
acting as if it were prosecuting Bosnich. Anyone, including a footballer, who
has a drug problem has deep personal
problems, and pressing formal charges against him merely for his drug use is highly likely to
acerbate them. Any organisation possessing any sensibility and
sensitivity at all recognises that drug dependency or abuse is an emotional
and medical problem.
Although the F.A. is normally
at least half a century behind the times in coming
to grips with reality, common decency should compel it to
follow more humane procedures in such cases than publicly charging a man who,
by all accounts, is confronting a severe personal crisis. Why not call such a
player in for private consultation and, if he agrees, simply announce that he
is taking a leave of absence for medical reasons and will not
take part in football until fit? It will come out in the relentlessly
inquiring press, of course, that the medical reasons are drug-related,
but nothing could possibly justify subjecting such a player to formal
charges if he has agreed to undergo drug rehabilitation and refrain from
football until his treatment is completed.
We believe the F.A. is
attempting to recoup lost ground after recent widespread
criticism of its well-known failure to conduct drug tests in
enforcing regulations against drug use
in the game. Having at last conducted some tests which allegedly
produced a violator, the F.A. is apparently bent on making an example of
him to dispel charges that it has been lax in this
The Bosnich announcement was given top play on the
F.A. website's home page, as if nothing more important was happening in
English football. Furthermore, the F.A. kept the
story at the top of its website's news page for
more than a week, the first time it had
ever given a story play for more than two
or three days. The F.A.'s public relations are apparently deemed
more important than decent treatment which might well aid the recovery
of a player, a human being but also, conveniently, an Australian. As
England's footballers try to do much better against the Aussies at home
than their cricketers did Down Under in the Ashes, we would have
expected the slightest bow to diplomacy would compel even the dullards at the
F.A. to display a bit of decency.
The F.A. has lied about its promise
to support Germany's World Cup 2006 bid, has cheated parents buying
replica England shirts for their children through a price-fixing scheme,
has bribed officials from other countries to support its own obviously doomed
World Cup 2006 hosting bid, has refused to account for government funds given
it for the new Wembley Stadium, has gouged England supporters left and
right and failed to provide them the service they have paid for. We
could go on and on. But the F.A's disgraceful mistreatment of
Bosnich strikes a new low for an organisation which has shown it will do
almost anything to promote its own interests.
One thing we do know
is that no player with a drug problem will now look to the F.A. for help.
For the sake of saving its own face, the F.A. has now ensured that
players with drug problems will not voluntarily
come forward. Obviously the F.A. has taken to
heart the words of the well-known wife of a U.S.A. President, Nancy Reagan, whose
imbecilic message was that all we need to do to conquer the
drug problem is "Just say no," and the equally idiotic program
her husband engineered, the "War on Drugs"
which has sent hundreds of thousands into
prison but failed to make the slightest dent in drug
abuse. The his-and-her Reaganite tonic, not surprisingly to anyone with an iota of sense, didn't work, and neither
will the F.A's. The Football Association shamed itself
today and brought itself into disrepute.