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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 February 2017

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The FA is unrepresentative and unaccountable, photo Katie Brady (Creative Commons)

The FA is unrepresentative and unaccountable, photo Katie Brady (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

FA foul

"We are making progress, albeit slowly. I intend to see that we continue to make progress." This is what Denis Howell MP said about the English Football Association (FA) in 1968.

And coincidentally, it's the year the FA still operates in. In fact, it could have been said by one of the MPs who passed a vote of no confidence in the FA on 9 February due to lack of reform.

The FA council, which runs the game, is mostly male, overwhelmingly old, and almost exclusively white. It makes the House of Lords look youthful and diverse by comparison.

Oxford and Cambridge universities get a place on the council each - the same representation as fans and players, who also just get one each. The PFA players' union gets no voice at all!

Not surprising then that despite a quarter of professional players being black, they rarely progress into management; the Asian community is barely represented in football at all; and women get so little funding.

Most of the English FA council are club bosses too, and despite Wales doing better at Euro 2016, the Welsh FA chief in 2012 said football must be "run by businesspeople." But what about those who love and know the sport and will be around long after the businessmen have moved on: the fans and players?

Football clubs and governing bodies should be democratically run under community ownership. They should be non-profit, with the election of all officials and coaches, subject to recall at any time.

Scott Jones, Loughton

Welfare win

A small victory in the courts recently against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). I had been turned down at several stages for ESA (the very basic disability benefit).

At my tribunal hearing in central London, I was successful in disproving the conclusion of the 'work capability assessment' and had my opportunity to tell the judge (a semi-retired doctor) what was wrong with the whole disability benefits system.

I saw 'I, Daniel Blake' at a community cinema screening recently, and spoke passionately in the debate afterward, about my experiences and the political nature of this evil trick system they have invented. I highlighted the media demonisation of benefit claimants, especially the ill and disabled in programmes such as 'Benefits Street'.

I reminded the Labour do-gooders there that my Labour MP, Neil Coyle, had abstained on the vote for the Welfare 'Reform' Bill.

I said I wanted to see the DWP at my tribunal - to look them in the eye. But no representative was sent along. I am sure they will try and get me back, but it was a win on the day of my tribunal. Don't give up and get support before these ordeals - Disabled People Against Cuts is a great resource.

Gary Kandinsky, Southwark, south London

Brexit bust-up

Derek Hatton's criticism of Jeremy Corbyn's proposed support for triggering Brexit (Financial Times, 1 February) is off the mark. Corbyn is reflecting the majority Leave vote, which I supported on the basis that the EU is a pro-capitalist, pro-austerity institution.

Derek will remember that the Socialist Party campaigned for a socialist Brexit because EU directives oppose public ownership and enshrine privatisation. I remain implacably opposed to May's 'red, white and blue Brexit' as an attempt to offer more of the same.

Corbyn had the choice of voting against Brexit, thus ignoring the wish of the majority, or voting for it while demanding the interests of the working class be protected. Correctly, although imperfectly, he chose to do this.

Some Labour MPs are justifying their criticism of Corbyn by quoting the majority Remain vote in their own constituencies. It's a pity they didn't reflect the views of constituents when poll after poll showed support for the public ownership of rail, energy, and the whole of the NHS.

In or out of the EU the working class will still be faced with the most savage attack on the trade unions and social provision for a hundred years. That's why I will continue to support Corbyn, albeit with the call for him to go further in transforming Labour into a fighting, socialist party.

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool

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