FIFA is to fund the restoration of the grave of William McCrum, the man who invented the penalty and inadvertently set the scene for decades of disappointment for the England football team.
McCrum, from Armagh in Northern Ireland, persuaded the Irish FA to propose his idea to the International FA Board (IFAB) and it was adopted in 1890.
Penalties were initially treated with scorn by England, who called them “the Irishman’s motion”, unsportsmanlike and against the Corinthian spirit, but they soon became adopted across the world.
England’s dislike has come up some cost – the England team have been knocked out of six major tournaments since 1990 in penalty shoot-outs, most recently at Euro 2012.
The decision to restore the grave was taken at the IFAB meeting in Belfast.
A statement said: “The IFAB acknowledged the contribution of the late William McCrum, who, as a member of the Irish FA, proposed the idea of the penalty kick in 1890. FIFA has agreed to fund the restoration of William McCrum’s grave, which has fallen into disrepair.”
It comes after the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs, which has been working on the restoration, asked for funds.
McCrum came from a family of wealthy linen mill owners but failed at business, lost a fortune gambling in Monte Carlo and, according to his great-grandson Robert, died “alcoholic, penniless and alone, in a boarding house” just before Christmas in 1932.
He is buried within the grounds of St Mark’s Parish Church in Armagh.