I’m angry with FIFA. I’ll admit it’s partly because I’m still bitter about the spectacular failure of the England 2022 World Cup bid, but it’s also because of the allegations which have come to light this week. In case you somehow missed it, Lord Triesman (former FA chairman) has said that four FIFA executive committee members sought bribes in exchange for votes in favour on an England World Cup in 2022, and that two actually were bribed by the Qatar bid team.
The allegations made by Triesman are; Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago asked on two occasions for money, one for £2.5million and one for £500,000. That Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz asked for a knighthood in return for baking England’s World Cup bid. That Thai Wowari Makudi asked for a friendly match against England in exchange for backing England’s bid, and that Brazilian Ricardo Teixeira asked “what do you have for me?”. Triesman admits that Teixeria’s question is ambiguous, but said that to him it seemed a request for personal gain. There is also an allegation that Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma were paid £900,000 and £920,000 respectively for backing the successful Qatar bid. Triesman says himself that their actions are “Way out of what the ethics committee would expect or what FIFA would expect”.
To me this all seems like another example of the failings of FIFA, another instance of a group of corrupt men making decisions that affect worldwide football and therefore directly affect billions of people the world over. Take the goal-line technology debate as another example; FIFA have agreed to start testing the technology needed…but won’t meet to discuss results until the summer of 2012. So that’s right before the Euros? So it almost certainly won’t be implemented in time for that competition? Sure. That’s a good idea FIFA. We’ll pop that right below your idea of a winter World Cup on your list of stupid ideas.
Anyway, back to the matter in hand, the bribery allegations. Many people will wonder whether conduct like this will result in an expulsion from FIFA if the conduct is proven. There’s a simple answer; not only should they be expelled on moral grounds, they will, if found guilty, have to be expelled. Why? Because the very rules which govern FIFA say so.
I’ve spent a good hour reading through two crucially important documents, firstly the 84 page long “FIFA Statutes” (the rules which govern how the organisation is run) and, at only 13 pages long, the much smaller “FIFA Code of Ethics”. You’ll never guess what quotes I was able to pull from these…time and time again the mention of words such as integrity, honesty, ethics. And in the Code of Ethics a great quote at point 4.3, “Officials who do not comply with this Code or severely fail to fulfil, or inadequately exercise, their duties and responsibilities, particularly in financial matters, are no longer eligible and shall be removed from office.” Not might be removed, shall be removed. And again at point 3.1 “They shall respect the significance of their allegiance to FIFA…and represent them honestly, worthily, respectably and with integrity.” Both of these clauses place high importance on the ethics of governing world football and on the importance of doing so correctly.
Forgive me if I’m being a tad harsh, but accepting bribes would seem to go very much against this overriding objective of acting with such integrity and honesty, whether or not there’s a specific clause mentioning bribes. Oh hang on, what? There is a bribery clause? Fantastic! So here it is, at point 10.1 “Accepting gifts of cash in any amount or form is prohibited” and 11.1 “Officials may not accept bribes; in other words, any gifts or other advantages that are offered, promised or sent to them to incite breach of duty or dishonest conduct for the benefit of a third party shall be refused.”
Apologies for the lengthy quotes but they’re important in getting the point across. The point being this; that (and remember these allegations are without proof as of yet) if the allegations of asking for or accepting bribes is proven or admitted then there really should be only one outcome, the lifelong expulsion of the guilty parties from FIFA and any other footballing bodies. For it is not just a question of them abusing their power, it would amount to a serious breach of the very conditions which supposedly govern FIFA. At this level of a governing body officials are always expected to act impartially and without personal gain, and if this is shown to have breached then anything other than immediate expulsion of the six, or possibly more, guilty men would be an absolute failure by FIFA to cut out corruption at the highest tier of football.
You’d be forgiven for wondering whether Blatter et al have even heard of, let alone read those two important documents. For an organisation which supposedly places the utmost of importance on governing with honesty and integrity and for the good of the game they’ve made some questionable decisions of late. Voting to stage a World Cup in Qatar, a country which exceeds 50 degree heats in the summer, only to then backtrack and consider a winter world cup, before realising that the idea isn’t feasible and confirming it’ll take place in the summer. Refusing to allow goal-line technology for years until finally they accept it needs to be looked into, then putting off even talking about it until 2012. Right down to silly things like booking a player for celebrating with the crowd or removing his shirt when he scores. And don’t even get me started on how governing bodies (and this, as well as the World Cups, includes UEFA and the Champions League final in particular) decide it’s okay for them to take 30% of the tickets and distribute them to the ‘footballing family’.
What irritates football fans above all is, I think, a loss of understanding by FIFA of the very reason that they exist. Blatter and his loyal executive committee seem to have forgotten that football should be cared for, looked after and promoted as the wonderful game it is, not farmed out to Qatar for questionable reasons and maximum profit. You wonder whether the men of FIFA realise how lucky they really are. Huge salaries for meeting twice a year (literally twice a year), going to football matches whenever they like for free, and the chance to make a real impact on football worldwide. Unfortunately it seems that the impact made by FIFA is an ever increasingly bad one.
Having briefly gone back over the FIFA Statutes and the Code of Ethics it seems that if these men are indeed guilty then they have breached a large number of regulations. In the FIFA Statutes; rules 2(a), 2(e), 4.1(a), 7.1 and 15.1. In the Code of Ethics; 3.1, 4.3, 5.2, 10.1 and 11.1. And these are just some I noted down by skimming them, there could be many more. If the allegations are true then they should serve as an example to the rest of FIFA, and indeed to governing bodies worldwide, that acting for personal gain should not and will not be tolerated. It’d be a good opportunity to cut out the dead wood and make FIFA fit to serve its purpose, to get back to governing football instead of acting with greed.
As a parting shot, allow me to remind FIFA of this; that their very own rules state that a FIFA committee member acting dishonestly or in serious breach of the FIFA Statutes or Code of Ethics “shall be removed from office”.
The ball is in your court FIFA, the world is watching. For once, please, from an exasperated football fan and someone who has taken the time to find out what your own rules say, please just do the right thing and kick them out once and for all. Maybe then, and only then, people will take you seriously.