FIFA needs the forces of the Arab spring to bring it into the modern world
Posted on 27 May 2011 | 4:05pm
I am slightly losing track of the allegations and counter allegations being made at the top of world football. But they are sufficiently numerous, and sufficiently confusing, that it can only be a matter of days before a gate is attached to Fifa. Fifagate – you read it here first. Maybe.
One thing is for sure – the idea that all these allegations can be properly investigated by Sunday, and cleared up in time for the Fifa presidential election a few days later, is ridiculous. There surely has to be a pause in the whole process.
Sport politics are rarely straightforward. But the appeal and wealth attached to football make its politics more complicated than most. With power and wealth ought to go greater transparency but football doesn’t appear to work like that.
The leaders of world football, as I remember from my time in Downing Street when we were supporting the FA’s last but one failed bid to host the World Cup, expect to be treated in the same way as heads of State. Red carpets, a bit of bowing and scraping, lots of listening carefully to their (occasionally fork-tongued) views.
It is the power of the sport that gives them the status. But if Fifa were a country, it would not be a Western European democracy, but a central European or Middle Eastern autocracy. And just as democratic governments have tolerated dictatorships when it suited them, so for many years we have all tolerated leadership systems for world football that we would not really want for our own governance.
Perhaps, just as Salt Lake City Winter Games corruption finally forced the IOC to modernise and become more open and transparent, this little crise will be the spur that leads Fifa to change. They should heed the forces towards democracy, openness and transparency that have fuelled the Arab spring. Go with the flow.
If they do go ahead with the election next week, then if either of the current candidates win, it will be hard to disagree with the ‘farce’ headlines that will ensue around the world.
As for the English FA, their decision to abstain from the choice between Sepp Blatter and Mohamed bin Hamman would appear to be vindicated. However, they could now rise to the challenge of seeking to build greater support among others for the notion that neither would appear to be acceptable, and that the systems which produce key decisions in Fifa need to be changed along with some of the personnel.
It all seems fairly obvious. Yet it is entirely possible that Sepp Blatter will be recrowned next week.