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Three Lions, and a seal.

February 11, 2011

To celebrate England’s 2-1 victory over Denmark in a friendly, WAF begins a new series looking at the badges of football’s governing bodies, beginning with the three lions.

It seems right to begin with England, because the FA badge cements some deep seated cynicism in our hearts.

First, typically, the lions aren’t even that English. The trio are an adaptation of the two lions that William I brought over with his Norman conquerors. The Royal insignia remained at just the two felines until 1198, when Richard the Lionheart beat the FA to shamelessly flogging prestige for money by about 800 years.

Richard pimped his coat of arms in order to fund an ongoing war against the French. He introduced a new Great Seal (of the three lions) and declared that treaties and charter ratified with the previous pair of cool cats were unlawful. Deals had to be remade with the new seal, and an accompanying ‘sign-up’ fee. The more things change, and all that…

The oddest thing, though – apart from why the roses in the present badge are only the red of Lancaster, rather than unified with the Yorkist white as you find nearly everywhere else – is that it isn’t really the FA’s badge at all.

The particular pose of the lions is owned by the Royal family of England, and is only leased to the Association. Of course, being the first Football Association in the world, the FA didn’t even take the name of the country that they represented, (or the cross of St George) allowing them to remain preeminent in the increasingly globalized game, posing as non-partisan.

How long before some litigious superstar fancies himself the Bosman of the anti-globalization movement, and tries to deny the FA any jurisdiction over him?

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