STEWART REGAN watched a tiny pocket of Croatia fans celebrate their goal in the opening game of the World Cup against hosts Brazil and the Scottish FA chief executive said he couldn’t help but imagine how the Scottish fans would have reacted in the same situation.
“It was my first time at a World Cup and it was fantastic to be there. I was there for the Fifa congress and the opening match, Brazil against Croatia. I sat there watching a team we’d beaten home and away playing in the first match of the tournament in front of 68,000 people. It made you feel ‘if only’. We could’ve been there watching Scotland play Brazil in that opening match and that would have been phenomenal. When Croatia scored there was a little pocket of fans celebrating. I thought what it would’ve been like if the Tartan Army had been there – there would’ve been a hell of a lot more of them in the stadium and they would’ve made a hell of a lot of noise.”
What-ifs are of no use to Scottish football fans but Regan says the one consolation is the fact that victories over the likes of Croatia suggest that the national team may not be that far away from once again earning a place at the world’s premier international football contests.
“It makes you think there’s a definite chance and we’re within a whisker of getting there. Gordon has turned the team around, we’re six matches unbeaten, and some of the teams playing in the World Cup we’ve either beaten or done well against.”
Regan says that, as well as sorting Scotland’s ills on the park, he would love to help the image of the world game. He believes one way of doing that is by quashing Fifa president Sepp Blatter’s attempts to extend his stay in office. “We were part of a Uefa meeting when Michael van Praag, of Holland, spoke passionately against Sepp Blatter taking on a fifth term as president. The reason for that was that he felt Fifa had what he called an ‘ugly reputation’ over allegations of corruption and, in terms of taking the game forward, it was important to have new leadership to restore that. After that, we went into a Fifa congress and we argued against Sepp Blatter having a free rein by having term limits and age limits. Unfortunately, apart from a number of Uefa associations, Blatter got a substantial support from other confederations.
“Does that surprise me? Not really. David Bernstein, from the FA, spoke passionately in 2011 about bribery and corruption claims, and the members supported Sepp Blatter then and that was the case again last week. Countries like Haiti, where there had been earthquakes, and Pakistan, where there have been floods spoke eloquently about how Sepp Blatter and Fifa had come to their aid. Different countries are at different stages of their life cycles. We have our ways of doing things and other countries have their ways. We’ve made our feelings known and it’s fine talking about a vote but you can only vote [him out] if there are other people to vote for. The key figure is [Uefa’s Michel] Platini and whether he plans to go for it. He’s said he’ll let us all know by the end of August.”
Regan said the matter was not addressed at yesterday’s SFA AGM in Edinburgh, where members voted to protect the status quo when it comes to the length of time a person has to serve on SFA committees before they can be elected as an office bearer. It was a contentious issue, with Alloa Athletic chairman Mike Mulraney asking for the current four years to be reduced to just one so there were fewer obstacles to installing the best candidate over one who had simply been their longer.
The resolution failed to gain the majority needed but Regan denied that was a victory for the old guard. “The members decided they’d prefer there to be more of an apprenticeship in the game of Scottish football. I think it’s a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
“We have people coming through the ranks right now who are in line to be president and it is the members supporting the current candidates. We’re constantly focused on getting the right people in the seats around the table and the rules still allow good people to come in. You simply have to prove yourself for a little bit longer than 12 months.”
The delegates also voted down a resolution that would have led to a reduction in the number of junior clubs allowed to compete in the Scottish Cup.