I have been gripped today, as have most of the world, at the goings on at football’s governing body, FIFA. If you haven’t heard what has happened, well where have you been? At around 5:30am UK time the United States FBI agency swarmed a Zurich hotel where FIFA officials were staying ahead of Friday’s presidential election and arrested 7 sports officials, who were staying there, on claims of bribery, money laundering and illegal wire transfers dating back to as far as 1991. At the same time the Swiss authorities made investigations into FIFA regarding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 world cups. So in a nutshell, US law enforcement officials say Officials from football’s world governing body Fifa took bribes totalling hundreds of millions of dollars over more than 20 years to allocate tournaments and rig elections. Fourteen people are under indictment. Fifa president Sepp Blatter is not among them. One of those indicted, former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, took $10 million in bribes from the South African government over the 2010 World Cup, the indictment alleged.
Now you’re up to speed you can see which myself and the majority of the world have been gripped to this story. When I saw it this morning i felt a little excitement and feel that justice may finally happen and football will regain some of the credibility it has lost. I also thought a change may be forced upon FIFA and that surely Sept Blatter cannot continue to haunt football. But within hours of this story breaking I was proved wrong, Step forward the arrogant Director of Communications and Public Affairs Walter De Gregorio, a man who is head of communications in this massive corporation, a man who needs to rescue the face of FIFA in the short term by telling the world that they are taking these claims and arrests very seriously. But no, he was very arrogant, answering every question with a sigh as if to say why are you asking this. To sum it up he basically said the election on Friday will take place and the 2018/2022 World cups will take place too, what a stupid question, why did you ask me that? Now as I said this is a man who is director of communications and public affairs, the better approach from FIFA would have been, “the election is on hold for the moment, we will make an announcement in the next 24 hours after we have investigated these claims as for the World cups, we will take the Swiss investigated seriously and work with them but at the moment we have no reason to suspend those tournaments.” There we go that took me 5 minutes to think that up.
We have come to expect it from FIFA, they brush so much under the rug that its 30ft in the air now and as for the current, and expected to be re-elected, president Sept Blatter we got the usual Shaggy impression “It wasn’t me”. Well Mr Blatter as President of this corporation you are very much in the middle of it mate. You are the president who has presided over numerous claims of brides and corruption all throughout your reign, a man who has even been suspected of being corrupt for basically being FIFA president for so long. You are the man who, 2 days before you’re expected to be re-elected, has overseen 7 of your corporation’s officials arrested on very serious claims. For a man who claims he wants to grow the sport worldwide but wants us to believe he doesn’t see the billions of dollars being deprived from grass roots football and flying in to businessmen’s offshore bank accounts. I’ll continue, the man who has overseen the most talked about world cup bid for all the bad reasons. If this was at any other big corporation he would be gone years ago. Furthermore where is Sept Blatter? Since this hit he hasn’t been seen, Where is he? The Ecuadorian embassy? In the desert of Qatar? The silence from the head man surely suggests he is not as comfortable as he would like us to think or even the right man for the job! A strong leader would come out and show that is organisation will do everything they can to cooperate and get to the bottom of this. I sense the round buffoon at the top of FIFA will be dragged in to this sooner rather than later.
As for Friday’s election, this is the chance for the big football associations to stand up and say we can’t have this anymore. A vote of no confidence, no votes at all? If the English, French, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian and American FA’s stood up and said they’re leaving if things don’t get sorted FIFA would have to listen. Sponsors would leave without the bigger football associations involved, the FIFA competitions would be damaged they would need to listen. Greg Dyke, the English FA top man, say’s he is doubtful that the election would go ahead on Friday, but if it did they would be voting for Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein. Now if the English FA or any other FA are serious about change at FIFA and think that Sept Blatter should go in light of this and the past ‘issues’ they should not be voting at all. A vote against Blatter means that the FA give the current president a chance as they are standing up and saying that we agree with FIFA’s democracy. They agree that they are choosing over 2 men who could be president of FIFA. If they want change they need to stand up and say, no, this election isn’t fair, that man needs to go, we’re not voting. As for any FA voting for Blatter, well how can you vote for the man in charge of this fiasco, anyone voting for FIFA needs to step back and look at the events of today as see FIFA officials pleading guilty to serious charges to see that FIFA is f***ed and needs a fresh start.
The World Cup 2018 and 2022 is still going ahead in Russia and Qatar respectively at this present moment. I have no issue with that at the moment as we have no proof that the bids were unfairly won. (because its seems normal to give a world cup to a country with no football structure, stadiums, 40+ degree heat and have migrant workers dying whilst building things.) But seriously if these bids were fairly won then fine, but as we can see from today the 2010 World cup in South Africa has been looked at by the FBI and the Swiss authorities have launched investigations into 2018 and 2022 and to do that they must have reasons. What do we do if these are found to be unfairly won? Would FIFA take it away from Russia and or Qatar? This is going to be worse case for them, they would lose a lot of money as both countries would probably file legal action to claim compensation for the money spent on new stadiums, planning etc… FIFA would have to admit that they messed up again and they would probably have to give 2018 to England which they would hate and possibly 2022 to Australia or the United States which would be a fitting reward for them actually getting out there, standing up and sharing these findings. As mentioned above should the big FA’s say they’re not playing in these world cups as a protest. On the one hand it would make a big stand to FIFA but would they care? Say Sept Blatter stays in charge and these world cups go ahead, would anything change? Missing the world cups and depriving a generation of footballers a chance to play in a World cup and a chance to compete at the highest international level they can?
Its a lot of ifs, buts and maybe’s all we know no is what we have known all along, FIFA is corrupt and has been for many many years. The man in charge is a buffoon who takes no responsibility to any of the absolute chaos that has gone on under his reign. Today’s events have made everyone believe that a change will happen in FIFA. People say it’s a bad day for football but maybe is a bad day that football needed to start afresh, a day that is bad but in hindsight will be one of the best. A day that the worldwide football authorities stand up and say enough is enough. Lets hope this is the start of a real change for world football’s governing body.
We will have more on Severn Sport as this rolls on, check us out on twitter @severnsport and facebook for more and get in touch with us with your thoughts and feelings on this massive story.