Thursday, July 28, 2011

FIFA and Ethics are like Oil and Water

Over the past few months those of us immersed in the football world have been collectively shaking our heads, disbelief etched on our faces as FIFA's credibility has been eroded by vote buying scandals and a general lack of ethics. We, at least those of us who chose to open our eyes,  have known for quite sometime that FIFA was dodgy. We knew that there were things behind the scenes that would make us question if the leaders of world football really loved the game at all. However I don't really think any of us thought that it went this deep, or was so wide spread and common place.

Last week came the word that former FIFA presidential candidate, executive member and Asian Football President Mohammad Bin Hammam had be found guilty of corruption (vote buying amongst a host of other charges) and was banned from all football related activities for life. This in itself was no great shock, the events that lead to his conviction was.

Last year Bin Hammam launched his bid to unseat current FIFA overloard President Sepp Bladder. Bin Hammam promised an open and transparent FIFA. One that would seek to end decades of corruption, mis-management and the endless insider politik. Most of us knew this wouldn't really happen under Bin Hammam had he won, but there was a certain sense of optimism. What fans of the game were looking for in the world organizing body was a fair debate and contest over the future of not just FIFA, but the game itself. What we ended up with was nothing short of a farce.

Accusations of vote buying, expensive watches and cars given to football delegates, financial mis-management and in the end a presidential election with only one man running. This year's FIFA elections may have been one of the clearest demonstrations of how rotten the administrative core of the game has become. Its aftermath with the sacking of both Vice President Jack Warner and Bin Hammam showed us her true politik.

So fans and lovers of the beautiful game I pose this question: How do WE fix this?

I stress the we aspect of the question because it us, the supporters who will have to spur real change. Whether we boycott FIFA matches, spend less money on FIFA product; or the products of FIFA main sponsors (Coca-Cola and Adidas), or start an online campaign for change and transparency. We must DO something. The game is nearing a tipping point, the ratings for football matches have never been higher, the game has reached all time highs in exposure. But with that match fixing, and all the corruption of FIFA has come with it.

Change is coming, if it is to be either good or bad is completely up to us.


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