As reported in the Sunday press, FERW has written to the Commonwealth Games Federation. We are encouraging its Executive to task the relevant sub-committees to review adding football to the next games.
If that isn’t possible, then perhaps creating a Commonwealth Cup is a viable parallel mechanism and that too needs consideration in its own right.
The Commonwealth is a significant force for beneficial international cooperation, and bringing on board football as a competition may help further increase its local community profile and grassroots engagement.
The letter is supported by former minister Sir John Hayes, MP and this is what it said;
Dear Dame Louise,
We are writing to put forward a proposal to the Commonwealth Games Federation. We believe it merits serious consideration by CGF sub-committees.
The Commonwealth Games has just successfully concluded in Birmingham. But one of the big absentees was football. This is a game born in this country and enjoyed, both casually and in amateur teams, globally.
The Commonwealth Games is the world’s second largest multi-sports event, and the fourth most watched global broadcast sports event. FIFA Ethics & Regulations Watch recognises the value of the Commonwealth Games as a space for friendly competition and personal challenge, and the Commonwealth itself as an important forum for international cooperation.
It makes sense to make the games the best that they can be, and the exclusion of the world’s biggest sport jars.
This is doubly the case when one considers that football is already included in the counterpart Francophone Games (Jeux de la Francophonie), and has been since its launch in 1989.
There is plenty of time to correct this before the next event in four years’ time. Consequently, we recommend the CGF Executive Board task its sub-committees with reviewing the possible introduction of football to Victoria in 2026.
The success in getting rugby sevens introduced shows that potential hurdles in sports bodies sanctioning events can be resolved, and events can be held at both Commonwealth and World Cup level. If a potential FIFA requirement involves focusing participation on players under the age of 23, then that in turn would mean fostering the development of youth talent in the process.
We believe that the nature of the sport, as well as the internationalism of top tier players, allows for more of an even-levelled competition. Suitable stadia already largely exist in or near those cities likely in the future to bid for hosting, reducing infrastructure costs and allowing some dispersal of event weight away from a single venue. This also may help address concerns about including team sports.
Importantly, adding such a recognised and popular sport as football would also draw more grassroots interest to the wider work and ambitions of the Commonwealth itself – fostering economic development, cross-border cooperation, and learning.
If for whatever reason committee members find adding a big team sport introduces more burdens than hosts might be able to handle, then there is another and potentially more exciting option: to set up a separate Commonwealth Cup. That deserves a separate study as an important option in its own right.