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World: FIFA Election – House of Knaves or Knights?

The last few months football fans (soccer fans for those in the United States) have been treated to some really interesting times.

The latest is the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) election, which comes at a time when one of the most powerful non-governmental bodies (that scares even nations’ leaders – ask President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria) and is almost a law unto itself, has suddenly started looking vulnerable.

This is thanks in part to revelations by Britain’s Lord Richard Triesman as captured by NottheFootyShow here:

Lord Triesman, the former FA and England 2018 World Cup bid Chairman has come out guns blazing in the Culture, Media and Sport Committee at the House of Commons in London. His accusations into the corruption surrounding the World Cup Hosting rights will not surprise many, but it is sure to make the upcoming FIFA elections all the more interesting

Real Madrid CF Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Image by Flickr user marcp_dmoz (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Real Madrid CF Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Image by Flickr user marcp_dmoz (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The blogger continues:

Triesman gave evidence of “improper and unethical behaviour,” by serial FIFA bad boy Vice President Jack Warner who reportedly put his hand out for money to build an education centre in Trinidad, with cash to go through him, and money to buy Haiti World Cup TV rights, also to go through him. Mr Warner comes out badly in two books on corruption in FIFA – “How they stole the game” and “Foul” – and funding for similar ventures have not seen the facilities intended built

And in total disregards of the claims and seeking to support the incumbent candidate, FIFA’s Vice President Jack Warner (from Trinidad & Tobago) is quoted in BajanSunOnline.com saying:

An election is not a popularity contest and as the world still grapples with shifting economic realities we must ensure that our sport is in a position to withstand any uncertainty.”…. “One must examine all that is proposed; how do you expand football? How do you continue to touch the lives of those who have been denied the opportunity to witness the beauty and simplicity of this game?

TheBigLead makes fun of Sepp Blatter and his mission of ‘saving FIFA and ultimately the universe’:

Sepp Blatter is running for reelection as FIFA’s president. He sent an open letter to fans spelling out his simple, direct case for his candidacy. He believes failure to reelect him will create a “tectonic movement” that will cause FIFA to “be sucked into a black hole.” Said chasm will precipitate “irreversible damage” destroying the organization and, possibly, soccer itself. Apparently, Blatter hires his PR flacks in North Korea.

TheBigLead quotes from some of the correspondence Mr. Blatter shared with the football associations as he sought to get their direction in way of voting:

Is the situation really that dramatic?” you ask. The answer is yes, in theory it is. I am confident I will be able to win the elections with a clear majority of two-thirds of the votes. South America, North America, Europe, Oceania and a considerable part of Africa and Asia will continue to support my ideas. However it is still worth considering what the alternative would be: no one.

Caughtoffside.com (what an appropriate name!) questions Sepp Blatter's ability to run FIFA:

Would you buy a used car from this man, let alone want him running the football’s most world governing body?

Responding to Blatter's solution to FIFA's controversial voting process, Caughtoffside says:

Sepp Blatter is basically admitting that FIFA needs change and that he will definitely look into fixing the problem the moment he is re-elected, which is of course incredibly convenient as previously he said no change was needed. Anyone believe what he is saying?

The reigning FIFA president has stated his desire to adopt an IOC style system for deciding on hosts of major tournaments but what is to stop Blatter from changing his mind once he was once again re-elected? FIFA needs change but it’s pretty much a closed shop and no one stands much of a chance of executing real change in the hugely corrupt body.

Arunava writes about Mohammed bin Hammam, the only other candidate challenging Sepp Blatter, and his recent visit to India:

Current FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter from Switzerland will be facing competition from Qatari Mohammed bin Hamman, the president of the Asian Football Confederation. The 61 year old Mohammed bin Hamman in his capacity as AFC president was in New Delhi last week to update himself on the latest in Indian football as well as speak to the heads of the South Asian Football Federation which represents the eight nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Caughoffside explains why it would be very difficult for Mohammed Bin Hammam to win:

I would imagine that the biggest obstacle to Mohamed Bin Hammam’s election hopes is his insistence that he will throw the doors open and make FIFA a more transparent place and whilst we the onlookers would love such an act to occur, those ensconced in the regime are not likely to be quite so keen. Therefore it would take something of a miracle for anyone but Sepp Blatter to win the presidential race.

The expression “Turkey’s voting for Christmas” has never been quite so relevant.

JohninParis is not optimistic about Blatter's promise to create a ‘clean reorganised FIFA’:

Sepp Blatter wants to oversee the promised reorganisation of FIFA, which of course he did not have time to do during the last 12 years. In previous articles (see this blog dated May 1) it was suggested that a real debate between these two candidates should take place on television and that both candidates should clearly state what they wanted to achieve as President. This simple and practical idea was not taken up.  One can only infer that during the coming years nothing important will change;  things will simply go on as before!

Whichever way, let’s see how the run-up to the election unfolds and what happens next. Wishing all the candidates all the best in their endeavours.

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