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Bob Bradley, former US and Egyptian national coach

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Alon Raab in The International Journal of the History of Sport

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Play the Game

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Andrew Das, The New York Times soccer blog Goal

"Dorsey statement (on Egypt) proved prophetic."
David Zirin, Sports Illustrated

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Richard Whitall of A More Splendid Life

"James combines his intimate knowledge of the region with a great passion for soccer"
Christopher Ahl, Play the Game

"An excellent Middle East Football blog"
James Corbett, Inside World Football


Friday, July 8, 2011

Fans and sponsors let FIFA president Sepp Blatter get away with murder in soccer

Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam may well be guilty of bribery but world soccer body FIFA president Sepp Blatter gets away with murder.

Mr. Bin Hammam has himself to blame for his downfall. Nonetheless, he felt secure enough to openly hand out envelopes each containing a petty $40,000 to Caribbean soccer officials to secure their support in defeating Mr. Blatter in FIFA presidential elections.
That may be disgraceful in and of itself but no one -- not the FIFA ethics committee, not the British parliamentary enquiry that took FIFA to task for its contemptuous and dismissive handling of the biggest corruption scandal in its history – is raising the fundamental underlying issues.

Mr. Blatter in three consecutive tenures has allowed an environment to develop within FIFA in which Mr. Bin Hammam felt no need to be discreet about his bribery effort.

In no other governmental or non-governmental body would the leader survive a crisis in which 10 out of 24 executive committee members, including the president himself, have at one point or other over an eight-month period been accused of corruption or improper behavior. Even more so, no other body would have re-elected such a leader at a moment that the crisis is at its peak.


FIFA is simply so incestuous, that it did not even occur to delegates that sustaining Mr. Blatter defeats any attempt at cleaning up the organization’s tarnished image.

That is all the more so given that four of the 10 have either already been banned or suspending pending an investigation.

It is time that an independent body puts the knife into FIFA and cuts away the puss that is eating away at the body governing the world’s most popular sport.

Mr. Blatter clearly has no indication to do so and so far is getting away with blaming it on albeit apparently guilty scapegoats like Mr. Bin Hammam.

The Bin Hammam case is but an indication how deep the rot is.

It is hard to believe that a FIFA presidential vote costs a paltry $40,000 unless such payments are routine rather than one-offs and thus add up. $40,000 are hardly seems worth the risk.

With multiple tournaments across the globe, Mr. Bin Hammam’s effort to buy votes at a bargain price must be just the tip of the iceberg.

The global match-fixing scandal is but another indication of the enormous illicit business opportunities, Mr. Blatter has allowed to flourish.

In the case of the Salt Lakes City Olympics corruption scandal in the International Olympics Committee (IOC), it was the sponsors who forced the IOC to radically clean house.

FIFA’s sponsors timidly expressed concern when Mr. Bin Hammam was suspended in late May. The sponsors however have a responsibility to put their foot down and force Mr. Blatter to follow the IOC’s example.

Fans can and should play their role. If the corporate sponsors are sensitive to anyone it is the fans. Ultimately they are the reason why they are willing to invest millions in sponsorship.

Nothing will change in FIFA unless the widespread feeling of revulsion about FIFA is translated into action. Fans and sponsors have a responsibility. They should be held to it.

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