Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fair Play: Should the PFF make a stand in Fifa fight?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's June 1 edition)
NOT one fan I know wants Sepp Blatter to get another term. Not one. Yet, to those who matter, Blatter got the 133 votes he needed to win another term as head of Fifa’s governing body.

The voting was done by secret balloting, so, we’d never know who voted for whom. I suspect, if push comes to shove, all voting members of Fifa will claim they all voted for the other guy, not Blatter. But he got the votes.

Who did the Philippines vote for? I’m scared to know. The AFC supported Blatter, and voting in this election is always done in bulk. The guys who voted for the other guy, especially those with Uefa, have promised to do all they can to get rid of Blatter.

And we all know what that can lead to. In the days when the governing body for football in the country was racked by infighting, there wasn’t much governing nor football. They were just busy fighting.

If it was any other president but Nonong Araneta, I’d have long suspect the PFF voted for who paid the highest. But Nonong is not that kind of guy. And no, I don’t know him personally and I’ve only met him once. But his is a story that fans would love.

He was supposed to run in the 2006 election but dropped out, proving the adage that the best guys who should lead the PFF are the ones who are not running. So when the guy who promised to resign after six months if he didn’t make football in the Philippines the second-most popular sport six months into his term was still fighting to keep his post four years into his term, Nonong got thrown in the limelight as the reluctant president.

Under him, reforms in football, while too slow for some, are actually happening. So yes, I am a bit apprehensive in knowing how he voted because I don’t want to be disappointed if I learn he went with the AFC mandate.

In case you’re wondering why Blatter is so bad? Well, imagine this--a sitting Philippine president’s entire cabinet gets arrested for corruption and the president isn’t. Can you honestly expect the president wasn’t a party to it? Even if his trusted right hand man, in Sepp Blatter’s case, Jack Warner, has already said “If I’ve been thieving Fifa for 30 years, who gave it to me? Why isn’t he charged?”

So Blatter gets re-elected, and his promise of “reforming football a day after his election” reminds of the promise of that PFF president who swore to resign if he can’t make football the second-most popular sport in the country. An empty promise made just to guarantee his quote will be included in news reports.

Would Blatter reform football? Or would he spend the rest of his term making sure the records and transactions that led to the arrests wouldn’t lead to his arrest?

The nations who are making a stand against Blatter are the powerful ones, like the USA or the Uefa members. Nations who can stand alone sans Fifa support.

In world football, the Philippines is nothing. It has no role, no power. But still, I wish that the PFF would make its stand in the fight against corruption in world football. We’re the little guys in world football, but don’t revolutions turn when the little guys make a stand?

I hope the PFF ends its silence and make a stand.


Because we all know what happened when good men do nothing in the fight against evil in football.

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