Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Is FIFA the New Mafia?

Money is swilling around football like never before and it seems its governing body FIFA is acting more like the Mafia then a benevolent organisation who believes in the principle of "fair play".

In the UK there has been a long held suspicion that FIFA not only is envious of the power and success of the Premier League but also that the Teflon-coated Sepp Blatter is Il Capo of a seedy, corrupt footballing empire where his members are either too scared or too self interested to vote him out.

In the last few years there has been repeated evidence highlighting a level of corruption that permeates every layer of the organisation.

Yesterday's revelations by Lord Treisman at a Parlimentary enquiry into our failure to secure the 2018 World Cup smack of more then just sour grapes. After all what possible benefit is it to him to name the perpetrators?

Triesman alledges that four senior officials asked for bribes in return for their votes. Jack Warner asked for £2.5 million for a school (or as he put it "his legacy") to be built in Trinidad that would also house his offices. Nicolas Leoz from Paraguay asked for a knighthood in return for his vote. Worawi Makudi the member for Thailand asked for the TV rights to a future international between England and Thailand to be given to him. Ricardo Teixeira the Brazilan representative wasn't that fussy

“come and tell me what you have got for me”.

Warner, Leoz and Texeira all have previous in this area. The Panormama programme aired in 2010 showed Leoz and Texiera were part of a list of officials who had been paid almost S100 million over a 10 year period by marketing firm ISL to ensure they were awarded marketing contracts for succesive World Cups. FIFA didn't bother investigating as they say the information

"failed to come from official channels".

Jack Warner is a particularly loathesome individual who was shown to have made $3million profit from selling world cup in 2006 via one of his travel companies. His own country's players have had to take him to court to get what was owed to them following Trinidad & Tobago's appearance in the 2006 World Cup.

Sepp Blatter, of course relies on Warner’s guaranteed 35 regional votes at each FIFA congress to get relected and is willing to a turn a blind eye to his indiscretions.

As soon as the draw for the next two World Cups was made last Decemeber I knew something fishy had gone on. Russia is known as a corruption hotspot and I have no doubt some of the oil millions have found their way into the greedy pockets of voting members. Now that the cat is well and truly out the bag I expect our industrious press will uncover some evidence. Unless they get a Polonium milkshake first.

What about the footballing giants of Qatar? They got the nod despite the fact that the World Cup inspection committee found they were the least suited to hosting a World Cup due to a lack of infrastructure, facilities and soaring summer temperatures. In the last few days The Times has published evidence that Issa Hayatou, of Cameroon, and Jacques Anouma, of Ivory Coast, received $1.5 million each in bribes from the Qatar 2022 bid in exchange for their votes. Thanks to these two, players will have to play in 120 degree heat. I suggest fans bring a hat.

So, to put this into context 8 out of 24 memebers of FIFA executive committee have either been accused of corruption or banned by FIFA for breaching their code of ethics. And those are only the ones we know about. If that isn't evidence of an organisation riddled with corruption I don't know what is.

Of course when confronted by the damning evidence Blatter, despite his vice-president lining his pockets for years, made out that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. Ever the expert politician he claimed he was going to investigate thoroughly blah blah blah and crack down on the abuses

"Zero tolerance is going through FIFA, it is one of the items on the Congress. It is my battle horse."

Yeah Sepp, sure it is.

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