In 2010, a British newspaper’s sting operation caught a FIFA official from Nigeria, Dr. Amos Adamu, red-handed seeking money from reporters who had posed as lobbyists for a World Cup bidding city. Adamu and a few other officials were suspended by FIFA. That opened up a window into the opaque manner that the most important sporting body on earth was run.
The suspicions about shady goings-on inside FIFA have never really subsided and the FBI and Swiss investigations of the past two weeks have been most unprecedented. FIFA officials are being investigated around the world and by last week, freshly re-elected FIFA President Joseph Blatter was forced to announce that he would resign his position. But things are not altogether as simple as they appear or have been presented, especially by the Western media. While we cannot excuse the corruption that casts a pall on the beautiful game’s ruling body, there are underlining political currents that we must put in context.
Why are the FBI and the US taking extra-territorial roles in the prosecution of FIFA officials? Is it true as former FIFA official, Jack Warner alleged, that the US is launching a vendetta for losing the right to host the World Cup? And why are the Europeans, especially the English, annoyed that every country, from the tiniest to the biggest soccer heavyweights, possesses a single and equal vote inside FIFA? Isn’t it true that they are trying to takeover FIFA in order to impose their own control and thus overturn the democracy that respects the weak and strong?
Isn’t it clear that whatever might be the problems that FIFA under Blatter has run into, it was nevertheless on the side of Africa, Asia and the poorer countries of the world?
Could the fact that Blatter has consistently opened up the rights of different countries to host the World Cup and other FIFA-organised tournaments have been reason enough for the way he and FIFA are being demonised? We must also not forget that it was under Blatter’s leadership, that the number of African slots at the World Cup have increased to five today. Yes, we must not allow corruption and the opacity within FIFA’s structure must be eliminated. Similarly, we must have an open and transparent governance structure inside FIFA, but we must be very careful not to throw away the baby with the bath water.
The imperialist powers must not be allowed to take over FIFA in order to impose an unequal structure which prioritises their own agendas above those of the mainly, poorer countries of Africa and Asia.
That is their wish and the anti-corruption red herring is just a convenient excuse to capture FIFA to their own advantage. We must not allow our interest become marginalised under the pretext of fighting “FIFA’s World Cup of Corruption” as the FBI stated at the commencement of its extra-territorial operation against FIFA.