The Football Association has been branded "not fit for purpose" by former UK sports minister Richard Caborn. [BBC News, 5 July 2010]
I guess national sports organizations around the world are accustomed to criticism. In the UK, the two organizations that seem to be getting most of the criticism at the moment are the Football Association (FA) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
No doubt some of this criticism is triggered by particular sporting events, and British failure in these events. Mr Caborn may have long-standing concerns about the FA, but the best opportunity to air these concerns comes after England's exit from the 2010 World Cup, and the story is illustrated by a photo of some dejected English players. Similarly, although many people in the tennis world are constantly critical of the LTA, the poor showing of adult Englishmen at Wimbledon provides critics such as Pat Cash with an annual opportunity to attack LTA Chief Executive Roger Draper [BBC News 21 June 2007, Guardian 16 June 2010, LTA response 17 June 2010].
Which creates the impression that the purpose of these organizations is British success at the highest level of competition. The purpose of the FA is to win the World Cup; the purpose of the LTA is to win Wimbledon and the Davis Cup.
Meanwhile, many people believe that the real purpose of these organizations should be to encourage the sport at all levels. The FA should do more to improve youth football and the country's academy system; the LTA should be devoting more of its resources to supporting tennis in schools and parks. Hopefully this would create a larger pool of potential professional players, but it would also be a good thing to do for its own sake. The health of the population would be greatly improved if more children and adults engaged in regular recreational sport. This seems to be a much more important purpose for a national sports organization than worrying about the success of a small handful of highly paid professional sportsmen.