Seven in ten football fans ‘don’t trust FIFA’

Mistrust: Experts have described FIFA as being ‘riddled with corruption’.

During the last five years scandal after scandal has tarnished FIFA. Many believe this has damaged football worldwide, while others argue that FIFA’s importance has been overstated.

In August last year the FIFA president Sepp Blatter defiantly announced ‘there is no corruption in football’. But fans of the world’s most popular sport have not been convinced in the six months since that speech. As the 2016 FIFA presidential election draws closer, a Transparency International poll has found that 70% of fans around the world have no confidence in world football’s governing body. In the UK the figure was 76%.

This public mistrust of FIFA started with the decision in 2010 to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, with allegations rife that both countries had bribed officials for votes. The six years since have seen a string of corruption allegations in the organisation, implicating almost every major figure in FIFA.

But while trust in how football is run is at an all-time low, the upcoming election is the most open in decades. There have been just two presidents of FIFA since 1974, but this year will see a third. Sepp Blatter, already suspended, is stepping down after being found guilty of making an illicit £1.2m payment to the then-president of UEFA, Michel Platini.

Five men are in with a chance of succeeding Blatter. They include members of two royal families — Prince Ali of Jordan and Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa from Bahrain, a South African businessman called Tokyo Sexwale, the Frenchman Jérôme Champagne and Gianni Infantino, from Switzerland. What is most noticeable is that none of these men have ever played a professional game of football.

The next few months will see each candidate engage in a frantic attempt to garner votes from FIFA’s 209 member states. But as with most FIFA presidential elections, countries are likely to vote on geographical grounds: the European candidates will look to gain the support of Europe, the Asian candidates will focus on Asia and so on. Lovers of football often hail its ability to unite the world, but is this really true?

United?

The power politics in the modernist halls of FIFA’s headquarters have no effect on how the average football fan sees the game, say some. Football still has the ability to unite people from differing countries and backgrounds in a common interest. A person from London and a person from Lagos can instantly strike up an enjoyable conversation thanks to football. No scandal can change that.

That’s being too idealistic say some. Yes, lots of people like football, but the sport’s progression over the last decade has driven people apart: South Americans resent the increasing power of Europe in the club game, while Europeans feel ignored by the current FIFA hierarchy. And among all this is a general feeling of mistrust and betrayal. Football is breaking apart.

You Decide

  1. Is there any need for there to be a president of world football?
  2. Is corruption inevitable in an organisation as big as FIFA?

Activities

  1. List the three tasks FIFA is responsible for which you think are the most important.
  2. Class debate: ‘This house believes that anyone convicted of corruption should be imprisoned’.

Some People Say...

“Football doesn’t unite people; it divides them.”

What do you think?

Q & A

Why does football politics matter to me? I’m not really a fan.
It is interesting to examine whether it is possible for such a vast and disparate body to be run effectively and without corruption. Many of FIFA’s 209 member countries have rampant corruption, and many of FIFA’s major figures have emerged out of corrupt political systems. Can sport and politics ever be separate?
So who does trust FIFA?
People in Japan, South Africa, Brazil and Qatar had the most trust in the governing body. Notice anything interesting? Those countries were chosen to host the World Cup in 2002, 2010, 2014 and 2022 respectively. Chile, Argentina and Ireland had the least trust in the organisation.

Word Watch

Almost every major figure in FIFA
Along with Blatter and Platini, the head of CAF (Confederation of African Football) Issa Hayatou has faced accusations of corruption since the 1990s, while the former general secretary of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), Chuck Blazer, admitted to taking bribes in 1998 and 2010.
UEFA
The administrative body of European football, it is a subdivision of FIFA.
Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa
The 50 year-old Sheikh Salman is the 4/7 (bet £7, get £11 back) favourite to be the next FIFA president, having secured the backing of most African nations, as well as many in his native Asia.
Gianni Infantino
The second favourite, most well known for conducting the draws for the Champions League and the Europa League. He would expand the World Cup to 40 teams if elected.
209 member states
Almost every country with a national football team is a member of FIFA. The only UN members which are not in FIFA are Vatican City, Monaco, Micronesia, Palau, Nauru, and the United Kingdom which is divided into four for football.

Subjects

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