Perception of FIFA is at an all time low right now. People see football’s international governing body as a corrupt and pompous old boys dictatorship. They are not wrong. After the success of Qatar’s World Cup bid, the accusations of corruption and bribery have further tarnished an already unpopular organisation, prompting talk of smaller federations (such as UEFA) splitting from FIFA, but would this improve the state of the game?
The first thing to know is what FIFA actually does. Every four years it organises the World Cup. Attempting to make it more celebrated and more profitable than the one before. It then spends the next four years reinvesting the money generated from the competition back into football by way of all the other unprofitable world cups such as the Under 20’s, the women’s world cup and so on as well as investing in countless development projects.
Whilst it may be difficult to look past the fact that an organisation with such a responsibility to the game and such vast sums of money, ($2 billion profit from the 2010 World Cup) is in the hands of a select bunch of questionable individuals, it is crucial to see that the international game is actually in a good state right now. Whilst the men who run FIFA may rightly be entrenched in scandal it has still successfully served its purpose of expanding football throughout the globe. Blatter’s recent attempts to host World Cups across the continents have proved successful and the sport has never reached more people (the last World Cup drew 26 billion views).
As an organisation FIFA does a fantastic job of generating vast revenue from the World Cup. Purely from a business perspective it seems foolish to break away from an organisation that is bringing so much money into the international game.
The question is, could the game be run better? There are certainly concerns about how well this money is reinvested and the percentage that goes back into the game but it is fair to say that due to the relentless expansion of the World Cup they now pump more money back into the game than ever before with $700 million set aside for development projects over the next four years.
I am aware that all this makes me sound like a staunch supporter of FIFA. I am not. Their exploitation of the bidding process and the control they exert over the host nation is deplorable. The cries for dramatic reform of the bidding process and the committee members are entirely justified. However, if you look beneath the dirty top layer there is an incredibly successful machine operating underneath. Splitting away from it just because of the dodgy goings on at the top would be a very extreme and potentially costly decision.