Duke of Cambridge urges Football Association to reform or be 'left behind'
The Duke of Cambridge on Wednesday told the Football Association it must proceed with reforms "with some urgency" to ensure it is not "left behind".
William, presented with a special cap during a Wembley Stadium lunch to mark his 10 years as president of the FA, appeared to publicly back outgoing chairman Greg Dyke's efforts to reform the FA council by making it more representative and diverse.
Dyke is pushing for an end to the traditional "blazers" who dominate the council, with more women, more fans' representation, more people from ethnic minorities and possibly term limits to reduce the average age.
William, who took over the presidency of the FA in May 2006 from his uncle the Duke of York, told the guests: "There is one area in which I feel we do still need to improve and to do so with some urgency.
"Our governance structure is in danger of falling short of modern standards of best practice.
"There is a wind of change blowing through global sporting governance and we need to ensure we do not get left behind. In fact, as the country's national sport, we ought to be leading the way.
"I know the organisation is currently reviewing this issue and there is an opportunity to seize the initiative by the way in which we reform ourselves. This is an emotive issue, and it is one that you all have a stake in deciding.
"I am proud to say that we in the FA have committed to playing our full part in pushing for better governance in football at FIFA and at a regional level.
"I think that you will agree with me that we ourselves, at the FA, must be as good as we can be as an organisation, fully representing society and serving the needs of 21st century football, if we still want to be listened to by the game elsewhere."
Dyke will step down this summer at the end of his four-year term, rather than seek re-election, due to his quest to reform the organisation.
He had previously indicated he would seek to stay on for another 12 months until he reached 70 - the mandatory retirement age according to the FA's rulebook - but stated his belief his desire to reform would make it impossible for him to stay.
Dyke is optimistic for the on-field future, targeting World Cup wins for England's men and women - something William referenced at Wembley.
He added: "We know Greg has promised us back-to-back World Cup victories for the men and women in 2022 and 2023 - don't worry, Greg, we will find you and hold you to account."
William also said he is "dying" for Leicester to win the Barclays Premier League title.
At a reception held before guests sat down to eat, the Duke commented on the Foxes' impressive run of form which has taken them seven points clear at the top of the table.
"I'm dying for Leicester to win," William told FA board members.
William's own team Aston Villa are on the brink of relegation from the top flight and he hinted that his thoughts were on his club playing in a lower division next season.
FA board member Ian Lenagan, a director of Oxford United, said later of William's comments about Leicester: "He felt it would be good for football - it would be great for the game."
He added: "He's rather more worried about the prospect of Championship football from his own point of view."
In a speech to mark William's milestone, Dyke joked how the Duke, who still plays football with pals, brought a friend to his regular game - David Beckham.
Dyke told the guests, who included England manager Roy Hodgson: "Rumour has it that he occasionally uses his connections to help his team. One week he turned up to his regular six-a-side match, so we're told, and brought a friend to join his side - the friend was David Beckham."
Highlights of William's tenure as president have seen him help organise a competitive game at Buckingham Palace between two of England's oldest amateur clubs, Civil Service FC and Polytechnic FC, as part of the FA'S 150th anniversary celebrations in 2013.
He also played a role in England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup, joining a delegation in Switzerland in 2010 which included Prime Minister David Cameron and Beckham, but it ultimately failed.
And in 2012 the Duke and his wife Kate opened St George's Park - the £105 million national centre of football excellence in Staffordshire.