No one could have believed that soccer, since its birth, would go onto to become as big as it has. Being the number 1 sport both viewed and participated in throughout the planet. And yet, for all of the good the sport has done throughout the world, it has taken a matter of days for soccer to once again be put into the scrutiny of the world spotlight.
Soccer deals with its critics on a daily basis, from extraordinarily high wages, to passing new laws that impact the game arguable in a negative way. However, the brightest light is well and truly shining on the commander and chiefs in governing body that is FIFA.
FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, has been under a lot of scrutiny since its first executive arrests on late May. So how is it a an organisation that is supposed to be in charge of running Soccer across the world, involved in multiple crimes so much so the FBI are trying to indite them?
In recent years the FIFA organisation has been plagued by accusations of corruption, in particular the award of the 2022 World Cup to the tiny but rich and influential Gulf state of Qatar. In December 2014, FIFA chose not to release its own investigation into corruption, instead releasing an executive summary which it said exonerated the bidding process. This led to a few lawyers actually resining in disgust at this decision.
The World Cup is the most-watched sporting event in the world, larger even than the Olympics, and generates billions of dollars in revenue from corporate sponsors, broadcasting rights and merchandising. These arrests and investigations cast doubt over the transparency and honesty for the process of allocating World Cup tournaments; electing its president; and the administration of funds, including those earmarked for improving soccer facilities in some of FIFA’s poorer member nations.
Which leads us to FIFAs current president, Sebb Blatter. Here is a guy that gets elected in for term after term, who openly admits he dislikes the English and most of European soccer. He has been caught on more than one occasion accepting bribes, and yet amidst all of the corruption, he pleas innocence and continues to make decisions and pass laws that jeopardise the sport in which millions of us love. How is he allowed to continue to get away with it? Well, much like any president, there is an election and within the elections are different parties and candidates who all run against each other and try to gain votes. This is no different with FIFA, however when they elect a president, it is done on countries voting and within the countries all of the confederations. The key to Blatter retaining his presidential crown relies on his heavy influence within the Africa and Asian populations. To gain a majority you only need 110 votes, to which Blatter holds 109 just within the Africa and Asian federations, due to their sheer number. Yet Europe and America (who arguably should have the majority of voting power as they have what are considered to be the best leagues in the world and attract the biggest names) only contribute to a 20% stake which equates to roughly 20 votes of the overall number.
So what is next for the sporting world’s most powerful organisation? According to FIFA rules, the earliest a new leader can be elected would be in four months time. This gives Blatter the time to set out his agendas before he has to relinquish his position. This is a very dark time for soccer so the next person who takes over FIFA needs to be squeaky clean and have an honest and transparent love of the sport that has bought joy to so many across the world.