The 17 year, despotic (in the hallow words of infamous pot-stirrer Piers Morgan) reign of Sepp Blatter has come to an end. Despite Blatter’s resignation, just four days after winning a fifth term as president, FIFA’s reputation remains in tatters.
FBI investigations into Blatter’s involvement in the corruption scandal continue while Interpol have put out arrest warrants for six FIFA officials including former vice-president Jack Warner. A dark cloud hangs over football as the only truly global sport suffers a corruption scandal so large it transcends the domain of sport.
The main point of contention lies in the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bids, which went to Qatar and Russia respectively. The 2022 World Cup has seen a construction boom in Qatar as the country hastily attempts to develop the infrastructure to support such a global event.
Migrant workers make up 80 per cent of the population and are subjected to horrific conditions bordering on forced labour. At the current rate 5,200 workers are expected to die in order for the world to enjoy a football tournament.
As for Russia, with one controversy-riddled global sporting event (Sochi Winter Olympics 2014) having passed by, it seems baffling that another sporting body would take the risk. The answer lies in one single word: money.
The pursuit of capital within FIFA has spanned almost 24 years according to the FBI investigation. Bribes of more than $150 million have been reported as greed has consumed a governing body that was meant to stand up for fairness and equality. KPMG, who oversaw the auditing for the Russian and Qatari bids are at the centre of the FBI’s investigations yet they have remained largely out of the media spotlight. Surely KPMG must take some of the flack for failing to notice the financial discrepancies in both bids?
We, the people, therefore rejoice, for finally it seems justice has been served on a governing body that has long been seen to abuse its power.
Is this the start of a new dawn? Well, firstly the extent of the corruption scandal has meant that FIFA has effectively been cleaned out of its old guard leaving space for a younger, dynamic group of sporting politicians to rise.
This is clearly wishful thinking. Who will be FIFA’s Jacques Roggue, the former president of the International Olympics Committee, the man who steadily guided the Olympic ship after the devastating 2002 Salt Lake City Scandal? Bookies favourite, Frenchman Michel Platini, is unlikely to signal a clean break considering his alleged involvement in the 2022 Qatari bid and a £208 million arms contract between the French and the Qataris.
Doubts remain as to whether any other candidates have the requisite experience or can do battle with Blatter’s lingering legacy.
In his departure speech, Blatter indicated the need for centrally organised integrity checks on FIFA members, which would allow for even more power in the hands of a body that has already been proven to abuse its powers.
Transparency, voting reform and a return to the morals that were meant to guide FIFA and its principals are needed at a time when FIFA’s dark past threatens to black out the bright future of the beautiful game.