UK or GB – You Decide?

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Thursday October 19, 2017 at 11:57am

When is an Association an Association? Can any individual make up an Association from the back of their bedroom? Well, in the case of the so-called GB Minifootball Association, it appears so.

The European Minifootball Federation (EMF), scratching their heads about their loss of member countries and teams (particularly as the numbers in their tournaments appear to be reducing year on year) have taken the decision, it appears, that you don’t have to be a proper association to join their Federation. You don’t need to run leagues or tournaments in your own country (for instance Hungary, Ireland, Croatia and Slovenia etc.). You just need to be an individual residing in (or, in Ireland’s case just vaguely connected) to a country, bring a few mates along to play football and, hey presto, you can call yourselves the national team! Easy.

The precedent was of course set with Hungary. Never mind that they do not run a single league or competition or represent any membership or players. The EMF needed another national team to fill their competition slots so found some individuals in Hungary, with no substance or experience, and approved their place in the EMF. As long as they could cast about for 6 or 7 people to play in their national team and call themselves ‘Hungary’ what was the problem with that? Well, a very great problem. Because once the EMF allowed this to happen in Hungary, all of a sudden other people from other countries felt that they didn’t have to run leagues either to join EMF. And what do you end up with? Just single individuals bringing along a few of their mates to pretend they are the national team; just a group of blokes from the pub claiming to represent their country, despite that association being completely unknown and having no real membership in their country.

And so it was with us, here in the UK. When the UK Minifootball Association left the EMF, taking with it its 160,000 members, there was simply no one interested from the UK to join the EMF in its place. So what did the EMF bigwigs do? They spoke to some English chap on social media and asked him if he knew some people who would play as the England team and form an Association? No matter that there were no leagues attached to it, no structure, no money and no substance. What did that matter? Well, we’ve done it with Hungary, so why not the UK, too?
But the EMF has forgot to tell this group of people pretending to represent England one thing- that the EMF costs money, and a lot of it. The UKMA funded, in its entirety, their teams to travel to the EMF competitions over the years, each event costing many tens of thousands of pounds. Who is going to pay for this new ‘England’? Well, it’s the players of course.

But these players will have a choice too – do they stay with the UK Minifootball Association and get everything paid for and look forward to the new raft of tournaments in 2018? Or do they go to the new GB Minifootball Association and have to put their hands in their pockets to fork out large sums of money to play in a diminishing tournament?

The EMF was once a thing of pride- an organisation that could boast member countries with substantial player memberships and leagues. And what of it now? Which country will be next to fall out of favour and have themselves secretly replaced like Ireland were behind their backs? Which country is next for the chop? Because you can be the biggest operator of small-sided football (by far) in your own country, like the UK Minifootball Association are, but that won’t matter. You can still easily be replaced by any old individual and their mates, calling themselves an ‘Association’.

And that should be a real cause of concern for any country still left in the EMF. Because what happened to Ireland, and is happening to countries like Croatia, Austria and Italy without them knowing, could just as easily happen to any one of them.

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