Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Why the FA should leave FIFA

Much debate has followed from the latest round of corruption allegations directed at senior board members of football's governing body, FIFA. The boss, Sepp Blatter is blustering his way through the ensuing media furore:

Asked if bribery allegations against two of his most senior former allies, Mohamed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner, and continued questions over the probity of the Qatar 2022 bid constituted a crisis, Mr Blatter said: “What is a crisis? Football is not in a crisis. When you see the final of the Champions League then you must applaud. So we are not in a crisis, we are only in some difficulties.” 

Let's be clear about this - FIFA's owners (the various national football associations) are unwilling to act, to prevent bribery, to throw out corrupt officials and to deals with the games financial problems. This is because none of those national FA's are prepared to risk being outside the sty, away from the trough. And, of course, FIFA controls the World Cup.

However, there comes a time when tolerating corruption, bribery and malpractice simply to get the right to enter a competition ceases to be acceptable. And offering soft challenges, threatening to abstain and calling for delays doesn't cut the mustard - the fat cats running FIFA will simply ignore the FA. The only lever is for the FA (ideally along with a couple of like-minded associations) to inform Blatter that they will be withdrawing from FIFA until such a time as the organisation addresses corruption and reforms its governance.

What I do know is that we will not get a reform of FIFA so long as the criticisms of the FA and others can be ignored by FIFA's executives. Pulling out might be painful in the short run but may prove the only way to force FIFA's hand. Right now Sepp Blatter can ride out the criticism because it can't really damage FIFA sufficiently to require substantive governance changes. And in a few weeks time all the press will have wandered off to the next story leaving FIFA to wallow happily in its sty once again.


No comments: