The family of the late, great Jack Charlton are distancing themselves from an event which was supposed to be a memorial to him.
The Jack Charlton Memorial Cup was presented following a Walking Football match between the IWFF England Community Team and a “Republic of Ireland” team.
The IWFF (International Walking Football Federation) contacted John Charlton, Jack’s son, less than a week after the funeral of the great man.
“They caught me by surprise, to be honest. We have had many requests, over the years, to have my dad’s name associated with various things and having a Walking Football International (which had already been planned) named after him seemed a good idea at the time as my Uncle Tom is an ambassador for the Walking Football Association. However, I feel I was seriously misled, as the IWFF did not mention that they were an unofficial organization and I would not have agreed, had I known.
I have since found out that adverts on social media claimed that I was going to be present at the match, be a patron for Irish Walking Football and that it was to become an annual event – all of which are completely untrue. I only allowed them to use dad’s name for this match as I had given my word, but I am now regretting this decision and wish to distance myself from the IWFF completely. “
John continued “I have since discovered that the match went ahead with a blatant disregard for Government and FA COVID guidelines and was streamed live. The guideline of gatherings of no more than 30 people in one place was completely ignored, which, given that many of the players are in the vulnerable age group shows a complete disregard of the safety of the participants and no duty of care.”
The WFA Ambassador Tommy Charlton stated – “As Jack’s brother, I was extremely angry when I found out that his son John had been misled by the IWFF. I deny any contact with this organization who made such an underhand and insensitive approach to the family so soon after the funeral.
I fully support the WFA, who are the governing body of Walking Football in England and I am extremely proud to be their ambassador for the sport.
The WFA do so much good to raise the profile of the sport and health benefits it brings and all the IWFF can do is criticize what they do and to misrepresent their own actions. The only official England teams are run by the WFA and this so-called Republic of Ireland team was made up of players from Birmingham and London, so it was not even an official ROI team, making the whole event a farce.
Also, no funds were raised for any charity so how can it be a “memorial”, and the non-league venue was totally inappropriate. They have used my brother’s name purely to gain themselves publicity, knowing full well that I am an ambassador for the WFA. Jack never played Walking Football, but he was pleased for me when I won my England cap in 2018.”
The Charlton Family
16th September 2020
The family have asked the WFA to publish this statement to correct the misrepresentation.
We have received similar messages of disdain from around the world.