Further unravelling by FIFA
Latest action taken by the FIFA Ethics Committee is the placement of a ban on the beleaguered president of the world football governing body Sepp Blatter. He has been given a provisional 90-day suspension during which he must refrain from having anything to do with football. This comes about as a result of mounting pressures by a number of the principal sponsors of FIFA, prominent among which have been multi-national corporations like Coca Cola, VISA, ADDIDAS, Mac Donald's, etc all of whom are significant in funding FIFA's billion dollar revenues. The Ethics Committee may exercise option to lengthen the ban by 45 days, taking it close to the date for elections to FIFA's executive body scheduled for 26th February 2016.
Blatter's ban is bracketed with similar sanctions instituted against his Vice President Michel Platini; the Frenchman widely regarded as probable successor to Blatter, along with Jérõme Valcke, the Secretary-General of FIFA. Another Vice-President of the organization, Chung Mon Joon had already been slapped with a six year suspension for alleged corruption offences. He has come on record as branding Blatter with monstrous hypocrisy, an allegation taken by many to imply that Blatter has been a party to a number of grave misdealings uncovered in the FIFA paper trail.
From a position of being one of the world's strongest and autonomous sporting bodies, FIFA is adjudged by international experts to be virtually in the hands of its lawyers, even though it is constitutionally now governed by Issa Hayatou, the head of the African Confederation.
The FIFA upheavals pose grave concern for the 200 national associations coming under its international brotherhood – most of whom, particularly those from Third World countries who have in recent years benefitted from financial largesse emanating from the Blatter administration now in existence for just over 20 years.
Even in the Caribbean, it is stunning to hear some sports analysts unashamedly voicing the view that all concern about FIFA's financial misdealings has resulted purely in view of benefits issuing to Black African and other impoverished countries under Blatter's "instigation", or more correctly, his "benevolence". This is reference to the United States of America and European Associations purportedly smarting under their being disregarded in favour of African and Asiatic countries for the staging of the World Cup tournaments in recent times.
In one's right senses it is hopelessly improper to embrace such a view, which is equally reprehensible to the one suggesting there should be no sanctions taken against drug abusers in sport! All such matters entail wider responsibility to the world community, bearing in mind it is more than the drug cheats that matter. Whereas some may tend to discount any possible future health problems as their own personal business, there is still the consideration of credibility as regards setting of performance records. Then, too, there is also the need to install protective measures conducive to shielding the very young against the unscrupulous behavior of persons who are criminally unconcerned about the well being of those coming under their charge.
Not much has been heard of late coming from Trinidad's Jack Warner, himself another of FIFA's area Vice-Presidents, since his suspension by the FIFA Executive earlier this year on charges of corruption. He did say at the time of his suspension he would expose much of what has been at fault with the world governing body. Warner reportedly claimed a number of his eyebrow raising multi-million dollar properties were accounted to family ownership. Whether or not requests for his extradition to face corruption charges in a U.S.A. court will be granted is left to be seen. The picture Warner painted at the last Trinidad general elections was to the effect that, despite his own failure to retain his parliamentary seat, he was instrumental in bringing about the failure of out-going Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Two of Warner's sons are incarcerated in the USA on FIFA corruption related charges.
How much can be read into the silence of heads of territorial football associations in the Caribbean concerning the FIFA issues is undecipherable – that, not withstanding expected arraignment of Jeffrey Webb, President of the Bahamas Football Association and a high standing official of FIFA. Reminds of the situation with financial magnate Allen Stanford. All those associated with his undertakings fled fearfully at his arrest, keeping the safest of distances from him – as if he had suddenly contracted leprosy, instantly distancing themselves as if he had never existed!
It seems our current sports leaders have no compunctions about fraternizing with prominent leaders in the sport whose dealings are reputedly unsavory in the extreme. Inevitably, all existing codes of silence stand to be some day broken and the brotherhood of impenetrable secrecy shattered. Platini's denial of any wrong doing in connection with FIFA finances appears tarnished by a payment said to have been made to him by Blatter of two million U.S dollars – for services Platini says were rendered to FIFA, the payment effected some years later! Reform certainly is needed in FIFA, with the sordid slate wiped clean. Perhaps the man to head any such reform would be Prince Ali bin-Hussein of Jordan, the man who lost to Blatter at the last FIFA elections. At least he escapes the taint of corruption implied in all that the FIFA upheavals have revealed and are likely to continue to reveal in short order according to the way things are transpiring!