FIFA crisis – what crisis?

1 06 2011

Fifa, world football’s governing body, is rocking following the recent well publicised accusations of sleaze and corruption. They come as no surprise to anybody who follows and loves the game, but what is so amazing is that it has taken until now for any meaningful challenge to be mounted against those at the apex of its organisational pyramid. 

Over the last 13 years, Sepp Blatter, the gnome of Zurich, has created his own personal fiefdom or ‘family’ as he refers to it – in tones reminiscent of the mafia! He wields absolute power, and believes he is untouchable. Unfortunately he’s pretty much right, as was demonstrated by the utter arrogance and contempt he displayed, when addressing Monday’s press conference. It was an absolutely staggering performance of self-righteous conceit.

On Wednesday he stands unopposed for re-election and fully expects to be given another four years to sort out the ‘few difficulties’ that have recently come to light. He maintains that Fifa face absolutely no kind of crisis and expects us to believe he is squeaky clean and beyond reproach because he enjoys the full backing of his own ethics committee.

He appears, for all the world, a deluded despot  but the worrying thing is that he has established such a formidable power base it is going to prove nigh on impossible to topple him.

That so many of the 203 national football association members appear ready to stand behind him only serves to accentuate concerns of just how endemic the institutional corruption is.

If 78% or more of the members refuse to vote in Wednesday’s election it will have to be postponed but this appears highly unlikely.

The English Football Association, desperately leading a last-minute bid to gather enough support to derail the election, are not beyond reproach themselves. Their recent zealous anti-corruption stance has only surfaced as a result of a failed 2018 World Cup bid. Prior to that, they were very careful not to rock the boat.

It is also widely believed that when Blatter was first elected president of Fifa, back in 1998, he secured the last-minute backing of the FA by suggesting he would support their bid to stage World Cup, which eventually went to Germany. 

The FA are therefore not in any kind of position to adopt the moral high ground. 

Unfortunately Fifa is a law unto itself and its decision-making executive committee has a firm stranglehold on the membership.  A unilateral decision by the FA, or any other national association, to withdraw would result in automatic disqualification from any participation in future Fifa World Cups and UEFA European Champions League competitions.     

Following England’s inept performances at South Africa 2010 and the footballing lesson handed out by Barcelona to Manchester United, at Wembley, in Saturday’s Champions League Final, some might say that withdrawal from Fifa wouldn’t be a bad thing!     

The only light at the end of the tunnel is the growing discontent amongst high-profile sponsors such as Adidas, Coca Cola and Visa. If they were to demand an external independent review into the affairs of football’s world governing body, Blatter and Fifa may just have to sit up and listen.

After all they are only too aware that money talks.   

If Blatter survives, as I suspect he will, and is allowed to continue in his role as the ugly face of the beautiful game, it will be a clear indication that his political juggling skills are a whole lot better than his footballing ones!     








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