A speech by The Duke of Cambridge to the Football Association ahead of the 2015 FA Cup Final


I feel we need to ensure that we become the gold standard of sporting governance.

As a football fan and the impartial President of the FA, I always look forward to the Cup Final with huge enthusiasm and this year has been no exception.  I sincerely believe that the FA Cup represents all that is good in this beautiful game and the Cup Final is always a fitting celebration of the joy, passion and unity that the game can bring.

I don't wish to bring down the tone of this party too much, but if I may I would like to say some words about events this week in Switzerland.

There seems to be a huge disconnect between the sense of fair play that guides those playing and supporting the game, and the allegations of corruption that have long lingered around the management of the sport internationally.

The events in Zurich this week represent Fifa's Salt Lake City moment, when the International Olympic Committee went through a similar period of serious allegations.  Fifa, like the IOC, must now show that it can represent the interests of fair play and put the sport first.

Those backing Fifa, such as sponsors and the regional confederations, must do their bit to press these reforms – we are doing football and its fans no favours if we do not.  I have no doubt that when Fifa reforms, its mission to spread the benefits of the game to more people, especially those in developing countries, can only be enhanced.

At this juncture, if I may, I know I join with all of you in commending David Gill for his decision to stand down from the ExCo, and to lead by example by doing so.

Our own game in this country has been  taking a critical look at itself under Greg Dyke's leadership.  As we all know in this room, to improve, to better represent the modern game, we must take tough decisions.  We must ensure that the quality and the richness of the game at the highest levels is shared more generously at the grassroots; we must ensure that home-grown talent is better nurtured; and we must continue to kick out racism for good from our game.

I feel we need to ensure that we become the gold standard of sporting governance.  A modern, transparent and inclusive organisation – representative of the broad and diverse society who play and love our game.  Over the next few years, if we want credibly to influence the debate on reform in Fifa, we must continue to strive for excellence in our own organisation.  It's not easy to do so, but it is worth it – and, to that end, I commend the process you are on, and I'll be watching it closely.

I feel there is a tremendous amount to be positive about as we look ahead for the next 12 months.  The women will be competing in their World Cup this summer with a fantastic opportunity for tournament success - despite what happened in Calgary yesterday.  Women's sport is so important for the sporting culture and wellbeing of the UK.  On a recent visit to St George's Park, I saw first-hand how seriously the team have been preparing for this tournament.  They look like a highly determined, professional team and I wish them every success.

With the Men's Team, Roy and his squad are hard at work building to what we hope will be success next summer at the Euros in France.  Off the pitch Greg and Martin are at an exciting stage in the delivery of their ambitious new strategy for investment in grassroots facilities and coaching.

Now back to the day's events … I'm sure you are all as keen as I am to get out to your seats for the match, frankly because my nerves can't take any more.  It is a great privilege to be able to attend the match today in person and I congratulate both teams for making it to Wembley – Arsenal returning to defend your title and Aston Villa for making me a very happy man!

Despite any allegiances of my own, I really do wish both teams the best of luck for the match.  Hopefully we will have a classic Cup Final this afternoon and remind the footballing world of all that is great about the sport.  And finally may the best team win...

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