There’s no running away from corruption in football, as much as we try to ignore it. Sepp Blatter has, unfortunately, greatly accentuated his inability to hold down the role as a credible president of FIFA through accusations of bribery. His incompetence when it comes to matters on the football pitch is evident, yet the leading football governing body has consistently been thrown into drawn out sagas of corruption under his watch.
Mohamed Bin Hammam seemed like an interesting successor to Sepp Blatter when he ran for Presidency last year. At the very least, it would be an alternative to what we’ve become accustomed to. Polices were falling by the wayside because they really didn’t matter. The football world has become disillusioned with the current state and morals inside the headquarters of world football, and those who are responsible seem to hold untouchable positions.
Those positions of seemingly enormous power came to a head once more last year, with Bin Hammam accused of bribery in order pay his way into the FIFA presidential seat—subsequently leading to a lifetime ban from all football activities.
From one view, it’s a disappointing ending—allowing Blatter to remain president with no opposition. But at the same time, it is an indication of what a terrible state FIFA is in at the moment.
There can be little doubt that those brown envelopes, thick with promises from one to another, were present during the World Cup voting that took place two years ago. We are fed the story of taking football around the world and helping less fortunate countries to further their development. The darker and more realistic side is that the dollar now commands where football is played and who runs the show.
Sepp Blatter has unquestionably been in power for too long. FIFA need to look at re-addressing the length of time a candidate can remain in power, limiting it to just four years. It won’t be difficult to talk about the good of the game and the positives it can bring by introducing a new candidate regularly. But the corruption that is now common place has forced real football issues to the backseat.
And who exactly is voting during these elections? FIFA’s presidents are elected internally—highlighting another huge problem with the practices inside football’s leading governing body. The votes need to be collected from each football association, instead of Blatter’s mates in the office at the end of the corridor. Football—real football—has become a mask for the get-rich-quick activities that are taking place.
As of this year, Bin Hammam has seen his ban lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. However, they haven’t discredited him from wrongdoing and clearing his now tarnished reputation.
There’s an argument that questions the real effect ordinary fans have on the corruption that takes place in FIFA. The problem is, football can be forced into the 21st century where it belongs, with technology and an assurance of the safe running of clubs, and all the issues of corruption would instantly be forgotten. It’s disappointing but it’s true. As consumers of a product, we’re unhappy with the running of the game we’re seeing now. There’s nothing organic—as strange as that word may be in the modern game—and the pitchforks have been sharpened well before the most recent Bin Hammam saga came to light.
Even more so, there’s hardly anything “organic” about the way football is run on a smaller scale. Club owners are dealing with debt which has resulted from their own wrongdoing, and isn’t the promise of huge and unwarranted wages to players just another way of bribing footballers away from their current club?
There are problems in FIFA, and the issues of corruption and it’s regularity is greatly disheartening to those who want to see a little more sense in the game. Unfortunately, however, FIFA represents an extension of what we’re seeing closer to home.
As is the case with Jack Warner, where is the sense in one accusing another of immoral and illegal activity when the accuser is just as likely to be exposed for wrongdoing.