Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fair Play: Do the right thing, kick Blatter out

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's May 30 edition, written hours before the Fifa election.

Sadly, the leaders in world football really are crazy--or stupid--enough to give Sepp Blatter another term)
IN 2010, when Fifa announced the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups--Russia and Qatar, respectively--my first thought was that the executive committee got so greedy that they decided to choose the host for two World Cups, not just one, as was the norm before.

The World Cup is the world’s biggest sporting event, bigger even than the Olympics, and of course, billions of dollars are involved. And only the na├»ve will think that money doesn’t exchange hands when the choice is made by the powerful select few that chooses the host. So yeah, my first thought, especially upon hearing who won was that the votes must have been really costly.



Corruption in sports is almost a tradition. You have men and women who have access to a lot of money and are accountable to no government institution.

Heck, the selection process for the Olympic host only changed when the scandal broke out in the selection of the 2002 Winter Olympics, when winner Utah was exposed to have paid numerous bribes, including the tutition of a child of an IOC member. That’s the IOC, and Fifa is just a member of the IOC.

Now, it’s football’s turn to be under the radar. I remember during one particulalry testy run for the PFF presidency, I asked one veteran observer why folks would be willing to sell their mother to be the PFF president. He said simply, “For money.” Aside from handling the national association’s funds, you get doleouts from Fifa, too.

A former PFF president who was facing an ouster movement once simply deposited P20,000 to the personal accounts of the local FA presidents for “communication allowance” to save his skin, which he successfully did. That’s how easy money gets spent.

After the 2014 World Cup, Sepp Blatter, the guy who promised not to seek another term but is still running, gave each national association a $200,000 bonus. Whether it would be put to good use would depend on the national association’s president.

Now, Fifa is under the microscope, with noless than the US government handling the probe. And it’s related to how the powerful executive committee chose the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.

So far, there have been 10 arrests made in Switzerland, just as the Fifa members--the national association presidents--were to choose who the next president would be.

CNN wrote that “Fifa officials are accused of taking bribes totaling more than $150 million over the past 24 years.”

Now that’s a lot of money.

This is why I think football will never be the same. Fifa will be forced to clean up its ranks or get rid of Sepp Blatter. Either way is fine by me.

After this latest sting, I don’t think anyone in his right mind would still have Blatter as the Fifa president. And if he wins the election, that means the financial standing of the voters just got a really big boost. Only those who have a lot to lose—or would go to jail if he would—would elect Blatter.

I mean, would you be crazy enough to give another term to a guy who has been accused as the center figure behind all of these corruption stories in Fifa?

Would you?

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