By Matthew Biggin [email protected] @TLE_Sport
So, it’s been almost a week since Michael Garcia, the gentleman assigned to examine the report clearing FIFA of any wrong doing surrounding the 2018 Russia World Cup and the farcical Qatar 2022 World Cup bids has found out, how to put this delicately…. The whole thing was a total crock. Well, colour me shocked.
Seriously though, did anyone on the planet actually believe that report when it came out? FIFA have more skeletons in the closet, more fingers in pies and more kickbacks on their kickbacks than perhaps any organisation in history. Rome has nothing on FIFA.
The question remains though, how much longer can we continue to let FIFA get away with this kind of thing? I for one am beginning to get rather sick of the whole process – FIFA continue to strenuously deny allegations of corruption (surprise, surprise) whilst recent investigations argue otherwise.
For one thing I feel it is a moot point. As has been proven time and again, FIFA, unfortunately, appear to be untouchable in this modern football era. They hold so much power and influence that it is unclear just how many authorities they have in their pocket. If Sepp Blatter is, as expected, to run for and successfully achieve a fifth term in charge then it seems that the situation will only continue to get worse.
The spectre of Qatar 2022 looms large and has many practical problems surrounding it, not least the intolerable temperatures and prospect of a Winter World Cup. But that is a discussion for a whole other time.
This writer, at the risk of showing shades of Russell Brand, would like to issue a rallying cry and call for a revolution against the seed of corruption within football’s largest governing body. As a nation, if we all boycotted tournaments then FIFA would lose out financially, which, let’s be honest is their only concern, and perhaps they’d be forced to sit up and take note of people’s discontent.
Perhaps I have an idealised view of change and of the world. Perhaps I’m a dreamer. But as John Lennon once said, ‘I’m not the only one.’ I can’t help but think that there must surely be others out there with my mind-set, others who are becoming disillusioned, not just with FIFA, but with the game in general. I call on England, as a nation, to boycott the national game, to withdraw our national team from major tournaments and to take a stand against the diseased corruption destroying our game. Let’s be honest, it’s not like we’re ever in danger of remotely coming anywhere within the vicinity of even threatening to win one. And if we are to withdraw, perhaps this will encourage other nations to do the same and if that happens FIFA, and Blatter, could well be looking at a coup d’état.
It seems FA Chairman Gregg Dyke, at least, is in my corner. Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Dyke said “The whole of the way football operates at that sort of level is suspect and has been for many years. I don’t think Fifa is a straight organisation and hasn’t been for many years.”
David Bernstein also seems to share this viewpoint as he recently called for UEFA to unite with the FA and boycott FIFA’s impending World Cup’s.
It would be wonderful if that were to happen and the entire footballing world would work together to wrestle our game away from the greedy clutches of FIFA. But the realist in me doubts it.
Pragmatically the England national team’s involvement in tournaments generates millions, (sometimes) billions, for the economy. Then there is the issue that the FA still has to pay off £267 million worth of debt on the new Wembley, so they simply cannot afford to lose the revenue that the national team would provide.
Breaking away from FIFA would also have long-standing ramifications, as England would lose their place on the International Football Association Board and thus England teams across all age groups would be unable to compete in international tournaments.
Furthermore, there is no way that the FA would perform such a bold move without the backing of UEFA, and it seems implausible that so many nations would want to follow this move away from FIFA. Spain and Portugal had no problems with the issuing of the report after it cleared them of wrongdoing, and Russia are hosting the next World Cup.
Additionally, UEFA President Michel Platini, the man with the most power and influence within UEFA, himself voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, so it’s difficult to see why the Frenchman would back a boycott.
Instead I expect whispers of a revolution, but no real concrete movement towards a boycott, or towards trying to wrestle power away from FIFA. It seems we may just have to ride out Blatter’s fifth term and then wade through the rubble of our broken game and hope we can rebuild a new footballing world from the ashes of the old one.
For more from Matthew, visit www.matthewbiggin.com