F.I.F.A and the moral compass
From its very small beginnings around the year 1930, F.I.F.A, the governing body for world football, has grown into the global giant it has become of 209 member nations. Much of F.I.F.A's clout has rested upon the leverage it derives from the huge revenues it has generated from the staging of the World Cup Tournament before the eyes of the world every four years. The World Cup is the biggest event for any single sport and by far the richest – maybe about three billion or more U.S. dollars coming in at each such extravaganza. What then has been the cash flow gushing from this torrent of cash? As with much else in this world, the rich always seem to get richer and the poor get poorer.
Eventually, starting around 1998 when a Swiss national Joseph Sepp Blatter came into the picture. The global membership of F.I.F.A, came under stronger realization that they ought to share somewhat in the truly stupendous fortunes raked in every four years. It didn't take long before Blatter began to answer to the pulse his finger detected from the growing world body of the world's most popular sport. Blatter inaugurated the process of providing each member nation with equal payouts to contribute towards administration within its specific jurisdiction.
Enormously, Sepp Blatter's popularity grew and grew. It expanded in South and Central America. It heightened in Asia, as well in Europe, but exploded in Africa. His election to the FIFA presidency because no more than a mere formality. Only a few days ago Blatter stood and won election for an unprecedented fifth term of office. He had apparently gone back on a decision not to run for a fifth term at the age of 79.
True to expectation, the vote turned out a fairly resounding 133 to Blatter as against 73 for his sole opponent, His Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, a 39 year old Jordanian. However, the vote fell short of the required two thirds (140) required for a straight win on the first round. Anyway, the Prince withdrew from the contest after thanking all concerned for the support he had received.
The election stood out before the entire world not only as a major sporting event but more glaringly for the fact that it was carried out against backdrop of troubling indictments levelled at several high ranking officials of the FIFA hierarchy, all of them concerned with financial issues pointing to grave instances of corruption.
Of course, Blatter and a host of others tried to brush aside the charges brought by the American F.B.I as simply a response attributable to "sour grapes" of the U.S.A's failure to win the bid to stage either of the two upcoming World Cup tournaments in 2018 or 2022. The first went to Russia and the other to Qattar in the Persian Gulf.
Come to think of it, the Americans, like all other world powers, have generally always turned a blind eye to misdealings – so long as their own interests are not unduly affected. Could be a case in point, but facts are facts, if they can be duly uncovered, and their weight adds overwhelmingly to the tide of public opinion. And that's where things now come to a head.
Sepp Blatter, labelled the great survivor, despite the elections outcome, he found it advisable to resign from the presidency after only four days into his fifth term. He had said – ever so brazenly – if FIFA had fallen into disrepute, as had been repeatedly charged over the last decade or two, he was the right man to work on fixing it! Alas for him, the powers external to the issue but altogether intrinsic to directions to be taken, finally constrained upon Blatter to move out of the scene and allow investigations to proceed. Evidently, the huge global sponsors of the FIFA brand like Adidas, The McDonald's, Coca Cola, VISA, NIKE etc applied unmistakable pressure that FIFA must immediately tidy up its act or else they might withdraw their billions of dollars of support.
Another thing impacting upon the issue from behind the scenes is the weight of the journalistic bearing – that of the world's major television networks whose revenue brings in perhaps the single biggest share of FIFA monies. Broadcasting houses are in business at the global level to spare no holds when it comes to critical news considerations, especially when the floodtide of public opinion is unmistakeably detectable.
Interwoven in all of this has been the overwhelming leverage of the European member nations in FIFA. Countries like England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Holland and Belgium, whether you like it or not, have the world's biggest and most lucrative metropolitan football leagues. Also, above this as well, these countries constitute the biggest portion of viable participation in any World Cup tournament. Any World Cup without them would simply be meaningless.
The cup has been won by Italy, Germany, England, France and Spain among the European powers. Only other destinations of the coveted trophy have gone to Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina. Looming up during the Blatter intransigency to withdraw from the presidency was a veiled threat by the Europeans to withdraw from FIFA. That must have considerably helped to break the carmel's back and push Blatter out of the way. Actually, he himself is now under investigation for alleged improprieties.
Blatter's removal opens the way for fresh FIFA elections, possibly giving scope for fresh persons unlikely to be tainted by scandalous immoral financial behaviour. This is of significance as well to the several member nations, many of whom now need to turn the mirror upon their own internal football jurisdictions requiring very sordid situations to be cleansed.