So earlier this week the world of football stood still, not so much in shock and awe but with a sense of ‘well it’s about time’. Not ones to miss a chance once a whiff of cash is got, charges of racketeering, fraud and money laundering were handed down by United States prosecutors. If laws were broken then rightly those accused of breaking them should be arrested and go to trial, and if found guilty punished. But what of Sepp Blatter’s role in all of this?
There is probably not one person who even remotely follows football world wide who isn’t convinced that some form of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ takes place in FIFA, me included. But is all of this hoopla against the man at the head of the organisation justified? Is it not simply the nature of things that when you can offer someone something they want, they will offer you things in return to make sure they get it? Is that wrong? Should the head of an organisation be held to account for the crimes of individual members of an organisation which he heads? Should Sepp Blatter stand down from his role at FIFA or wait for the upcoming election? These are but some of the questions I will seek to address in coming to the controversial conclusion that Blatter should be left alone.
The main argument against Blatter is not that he has been accused of breaking any nation’s laws, so if in the next few weeks similar charges to those faced by the arrested individuals are filed against Blatter I will of course accept he should face the full wrath of the law. But as yet he hasn’t. The argument here is that Blatter has presided over an organisation in which corruption thrived and he should step down as a result. Since he has not been found guilty of any form of corruption (to date) then he is at least grossly incompetent for allowing this to happen on his watch. Calling for his resignation should therefore mean that stepping down is the norm for a head of a multi-million dollar organisation when allegations of breaking the law are made against employees or other officials… right?
You don’t have to delve too far back in history to find examples where this is simply not the case. Some of these are not even limited to allegations of criminality but actual guilt and the admittance of it! HSBC anybody? In case you are not familiar, the CEO (the big cheese) of HSBC (one of the biggest multinational banking corporations in the world), Stuart Gulliver accepted responsibility on behalf of the bank for: money laundering; hiding MILLIONS for arms dealers and drug traffickers; aiding tax avoidance for celebrities; and welcoming the business of terrorists, dictators and other tax cheats in order to gain business. His excuse is exactly the same as Blatter’s; how could he be held accountable for corruption he didn’t know exist? Under what I will coin ‘The Blatter Rule’ the head of the HSBC snake should have been cut off… in reality he still stands at the top of the banking mountain.
Another example? News International… you know, the company behind the phone hacking scandal? One case of phone, hacking no matter what developed country you go to is generally illegal, imagine how many cases of phone hacking could be suspected when the details of FOUR THOUSAND public figures were seized from the desk and home of News International employees Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire respectively. These illegal acts were allegedly RIFE within News International! So surely the figurehead, leader, chairman of such a company embroiled in such allegations of law breaking should get the chop under The Blatter Rule right? Again, no.
Members of the British Royal family have been surrounded by accusations of ALLEGED conspiracy and scandal since 1997 (randomly picked year of course), including but not limited to speeding and breaking the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. The Queen is above the law in the UK but her other cronies/family members are not. Considering she is the head of the Judicial system and thereby THE LAW, if other members of her organisation break said law, under the Blatter rule shouldn’t she be expected to stand down? There are many more examples but I think you get the picture.
Another of the naughty naughty things that FIFA officials have been accused of is selling their political influence for, among other things, World Cup votes. But is the question of buying political influence as dirty as it sounds? The nation that purports to be the world wide beacon of democracy, the United States of America, has a democracy built upon cash for influence. Any watcher of the brilliant Netflix series House of Cards can tell you how lobbyists fund political candidates/parties in order to have the bills that suit them pass into law. But this isn’t just an American issue. In the United Kingdom the Labour and Conservative Parties are funded by trade unions and wealthy benefactors respectively. Are we to believe that they fund these parties out of the goodness of their hearts? The reality is that the wealthy benefactors, banks, corporations, media oligarchs that fund the Conservatives do so because they stand to benefit from tax cuts for the rich. Conversely, the trade union members stand to benefit from Labour being in power as a result of a tradition of more taxes for the rich and improved social services for the working classes. Are these not examples of buying political influence? THIS IS THE REALITY OF POLITICS LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!
Why should the political goings on in football be any different? Shouldn’t the voice of Zambia, Cameroon, Trinidad and Tobago and Jordan count the same as England, France, Germany and the USA? If football wants to be the global sport it should accept that everyone’s voice and vote counts equally. Where Blatter has been smart is that he has found favour with the continents that have a majority of member states. He has supported Africa and Asia when every other president in FIFA history has treated them like garbage, bringing FIFA’s showpiece event to those respective continents for the first time in history. I find it absolutely CRIMINAL that a country that continually rejects football such as the USA hosted a world cup before any single one of Africa’s 54 football fanatic countries. Blatter took a ballsy risk that no other president dared to, WHY ON EARTH SHOULDN’T HE BENEFIT FROM THAT? All Blatter can be accused of here is being a good politician!
Perhaps Blatter’s critics are not in favour of a democratic FIFA, perhaps they would prefer a world football dictatorship where the old boys club of England, France and Germany control everything. If you think corruption is going on as it is, good luck having it in that format! And do not be fooled, this is where the vulture Michel Platini wants FIFA to go. He has already shown in his role at UEFA how his personal preference takes president over everything else, with the UEFA Executive Committee awarding Israel the UEFA Under 21 European Championship despite multiple human rights violations and the obvious safety concerns that come along with being in a war zone. And before you start with ‘but it’s a committee’, the president has the ability to bring in his own, third party, hand chosen advisors. Is anybody really surprised that the loudest voice in the last couple of days calling for Blatter to stand down is the man who really wants to knock him off his perch?
Some have also called for Blatter to be punished for bringing poor nations such as South Africa and Brazil into turmoil for bringing an expensive tournament to their countries, the only legacy being left behind being empty stadiums and a shed load of economic problems; problems by the way that the oil rich countries of Qatar and Russia won’t have. Quite how Sepp Blatter can be blamed for that is beyond me. FIFA are very clear that about what funding they offer, what is required from the organising committees in charge and thereby the governments of the nation hosts. Yes there were protests in Brazil last year but those were not protests against FIFA, those were protests against a government who brought the World Cup and its costs. That is exactly why the games were excellently attended despite the population being in uproar. But FIFA – and therefore Blatter (somehow) – get the brunt of criticism, where was this criticism for IOC president Jacques Rogge when the 2004 Olympics totally decimated the Greek economy? It simply wasn’t there, which is why it is clear that this is nothing but a witch hunt against an old man who has made too many of the wrong sort of friends (according to the west), and until such time that charges of ILLEGALITY are brought to his Swiss doorstep, we should let democracy take its course and see who wins Friday’s election.
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