What is it about sporting bureaucrats?
Sepp Blatter. Photograph courtesy of Agencia Brasil
Does the selection criteria for their employment /election include boxes to tick off such as: are you an arse-hole with an IQ of less than 3 figures?, are you prepared to be corrupted?, for how much?, are you an experienced sleazebag?, outline explicit details of your sleazebagedness? (include photographs), are you responsible for employing and/or keeping in the manner to which they would like to be accustomed, all the dirtbag members of your family?,…etc?
The debacle that is now FIFA, an organisation that describes itself as a “family” supposedly responsible for the world’s most popular sporting event, will be of special interest over the next few weeks. Sepp Blatter is now unopposed in his quest to continue being President of FIFA, a position he has held since 1998. Despite his pleas that there is no corruption in his organisation, Blatter himself is no stranger to controversy. Allegations of corruption have been made against Blatter from the moment he walked through FIFA’s front door.
How could any organisation that needs gravitas have given any credence much less the supreme position of power to a man who was once President of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders, an organisation with a mission to prevent women from moving from suspenders to pantyhose. I’d make him president of Sleazebags Anonymous, admittedly a hotly contested title. Adding to his sleazebaggery was his quest to put women football players in tight shorts because he thought they would look good, adding to the image of the game. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/3402519.stm
GOD GIVE ME STRENGTH!
The numerous allegations of corruption within FIFA have been pursued in earnest by media organisations of serious standing. Articles dating from 2002 appear in the Guardian, the Independent, the BBC, CNN, SBS as well as various sporting publications, and are still available for perusal. I have included a few of the better links below so you can work your way through the litany of allegations, questionable allegiances, and bizarre procedures that have dogged this organisation for the past decade. The best source of information is Andrew Jennings’ 2007 book ‘FOUL. THE SECRET WORLD OF FIFA.’
FIFA cannot be left alone to get its own house in order. It has been promising to do so forever. We poor slobs have had enough of inmates running the asylum. We’ve seen what it does to financial markets and other ‘self regulatory’ industries. The repercussions tend to be at our expense. It is felt, by us, in the quality of the end product; as well as the additional cost, to us, of systemic corruption, incompetence and malpractice. It is the cost that comes with a lack of accountability and oversight. It is a joke! Enough is enough! What is needed is an independent body to go through the organisation like a dose of Epsom salts. The fans must have confidence in the leadership. It is bleeding obvious; they don’t.
The press conference held at FIFA House was a disgrace. Journalists were asking reasonable questions to which it was reasonable to expect that they would get reasonable answers. They were answered by feigned outrage, arrogance and plain foolishness. It was a PR disaster for Blatter. Respect is something earned, not automatically given because you have President of FIFA after your name. What grudging respect Blatter may have had has long gone. If FIFA and their sponsors (including Coca Cola, Visa, adidas, Hyundai, Sony and Emirates) do nothing about major structural change resulting in eliminating corrupt practices, introducing procedures that result in increased public accountability and transparency of decision making, then the sport will continue to become increasingly tarnished, and schisms within the sport will result. It will not be the first time this has happened because a major, if not the major and most popular, faction within the sport has been disempowered – and all because of a buck or two. Blatter has to go! He’s Swiss – give him a gold watch, and send him on his way.
Photograph courtesy of Haggisni
Speaking of which – another sport that has to get its act together is cycling.
This week a cyclist, who probably shouldn’t have been permitted to but was, participated in the Giro d’Italia. Despite the fact that he is under a series of very serious drug allegations, Alberto Contador participated in, and won this week’s Tour of Italy. The Spanish Cycling Federation contravened the international cycling body’s decision banning Contador for his positive returns to clenbuterol during last year’s Tour de France. The International Federation, to their credit, has taken the Spanish decision allowing him to ride, to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport. It was hoped, but now looks unlikely, that this matter would have been heard and decided before the Tour de France. Alas NO!!. And so we sporting tragics go into another 21 day Tour where the race has again already been compromised before the time trial begins on the first day of competition.
The last word on Sepp Blatter I give to Australian Senator Nick Zenophon, who likened Blatter’s press conference performance, especially the denials that FIFA faces a crisis, to the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That made me laugh for the first time today! For your enjoyment I include the link to the relevant scene from the Mony Python film. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhRUe-gz690
Here are some links to articles on FIFA from the archives that will open your eyes, and make your blood boil: