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November 24, 2011 / trajsingh

FIFA must reform or die


Since 1998, Sepp Blatter has been President of FIFA. For more than 23 years then, this ex-PR man for his local tourist board has been running world football’s governing body. He’s managed to get re-elected four times having worked out that, by creating a large number of ‘voters’ (the country associations that are members of FIFA), and assiduously courting votes through the simple process of oiling the wheels.

Blatter feels that there is an Anglo-Saxon conspiracy against him. And he certainly is viewed with distain in the UK. Largely because of the stench of corruption that seems to  always be there at FIFA, and the clear failure to address it in anything but the most superficial manner. As the head of the organization, Blatter takes responsibility for this. And because, we feel that he’s biased against us, in favour of others (primarily, places where new revenues for FIFA can be generated, hence the questionable award of the 2018 World Cup to Russia, and even more questionable award of 2022 to Qatar).

Blatter has been in the news lately because of his recent comments about racism – comments that make him look ignorant and naive about the experiences of racism in football and the communities that football come from – largely because he probably is ignorant of these things. Head of PR for the Valais Tourist Board (a Canton in Switzerland) probably didn’t prepare him for all this. (I’m glossing over a long period of his career climbing the greasy pole at FIFA of course.)

Anyhow, given the near-impossibility of dislodging him, what are the options? I can only see two. One: gather support to oust him at the next elections in approx. 2015 (in favor of Michel Platini perhaps, although he is no fan of the English game, and being Head of UEFA he doesn’t play well with the small voters). Or two: leave FIFA altogether.

I prefer option two. If FIFA is un-reformable, and more importantly, damaging to the credibility and growth of the sport, let’s start again. And like so many of these things, they are only the rulers because we the rulers let them rule us. I would also point to things like the 1977 Kerry Packer inspired World Series Cricket affair that ultimately shook up the staid world of cricket for the better (although it could do with some help now), and the formation of alternative leagues in US sport (I’m thinking of the challengers to the NFL) that have resulted in improvements and rule changes.

Of course, it might be painful in all sorts of ways. But ultimately, it’s probably the only way to cut out the entrenched gravy train that is FIFA, and get back to the grassroots of promoting and caring for the sport so many of us love.

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2 Comments

  1. trajsingh / Dec 1 2011 10:59 am

    Transparency International pulls support for FIFA’s anti-corruption investigation: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-01/transparency-international-pulls-support-from-fifa-anti-corruption-program.html

  2. trajsingh / Dec 5 2011 5:51 am

    One down, innumerably more to go… (let’s hope it’s a “FIFA/IOC spring”)

    http://gu.com/p/33p6c

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