Doha - Premier League chairman Dave Richards went on a rant on Wednesday at a sports and security conference, accusing FIFA and UEFA of stealing the game of soccer from the English.
With FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan and International Cricket Council Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat looking on, Richards repeatedly reminded his audience that the world had England to thank for soccer.
"England gave the world football. It gave the best legacy anyone could give. We gave them the game," said Richards, who is also a Football Association board member. "For 50 years, we owned the game ... We were the governance of the game. We wrote the rules, designed the pitches and everything else.
"Then, 50 years later, some guy came along and said you're liars and they actually stole it. It was called FIFA. Fifty years later, another gang came along called UEFA and stole a bit more."
Hussein then reminded Richards that there was still a debate over whether the Chinese or the English invented the game, but Richards leapt to the defence of his country.
"It started in Sheffield 150 years ago ...," Richards said, his voice rising. "We started the game and wrote the rules and took it (to) the world. The Chinese may say they own it but the British own it and we gave it to the rest of the world."
Hussein tried to diffuse the tension by saying the game now is owned by everyone, not just one country.
"The point I'm trying to make is the whole world loves the sport and it is the most popular sport," Hussein said. "We have to continue to work on developing it and obviously competing and helping our youth."
Richards attended the conference to share his Premier League experience with others at a round-table on new frontiers in sports.
"This exchange could well have taken place in the cricket boardroom about who owns the game," said Lorgat, who has been a strong advocate of expanding the game of cricket to new regions. "It is less about ownership and more about of what is good for the game."
Richards's comments are not likely to go down well with Qatar, which won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup by arguing that it was time for the sport to move beyond traditional markets in Europe and to new frontiers like the Middle East.