Yeah, yeah, I know I haven’t blogged for a while… I hope the silence hasn’t been too wonderful.
For several months I’ve been working on a project that’s taken ages to put together and perhaps now you’ll understand why.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association is without doubt a discredited organisation. It continues to be embroiled in serious allegations of corruption and to sweep damaging evidence under the carpet. Fifa is now trusted by no-one on the outside and likely very few on the inside, other than those conflicted with something to gain.
This is why I’m delighted that SKINS is a founding member of a movement hosting an international summit where globally influential figures from football and politics will debate the mess that is Fifa and push for reform.
The summit, to be held at the European Parliament in Brussels on the 21st January, is being led by British Member of Parliament Damian Collins and will hammer home the need for cultural change, especially for Mr. Blatter to be replaced when Fifa’s Presidential election is held in May. One of Mr. Blatter’s Presidential rivals, Jerome Champagne will be present to share his views, Lord David Triesman, who led England’s recent World Cup Bid has confirmed his participation, and Bonita Mersiades, a courageous lady who was ousted by Australia’s World Cup Bid team for questioning dubious and corrupt practices and then hung out to dry by Fifa’s own investigation, is also travelling to Brussels. I’ve been privileged to work closely with Damian and Bonita in putting this summit together and we shall be confirming further attendees (and hopefully other presidential candidates) in the days leading up to the event. I’m delighted that SKINS is part of a process that will give a platform to this very important debate.
You can find out more at www.newfifanow.org where you can sign up with your support, read the charter and what we stand for and join our social media platforms. Please give it a visit.
Underneath the murky surface, Fifa is actually full of wonderful people. Look at the World Cup tournament in Brazil. A brilliant and unforgettable event made possible by superb organisation at the executive level and tens of thousands of dedicated, skilled and committed football people. Youth tournaments, women’s tournaments, national tournaments are all taking place successfully under Fifa’s banner for the enjoyment of fans around the world. Sadly, this all happens in spite of its President not because of him – although he’d probably tell you different.
What Sepp Blatter has forgotten is that football is a sport owned by you and me, not by him or even Fifa. Mr Blatter serves at our pleasure – for the time being at least (we hope). He’s President of an organisation that governs on behalf of the sport’s fan base. The trouble is, as a custodian, Fifa’s transparency is zero; we don’t even have the right to know how much we pay Mr Blatter (or should I say, how much he chooses to pay himself).
The recent farce around the Garcia Report is just one example of his ineptness.
Michael Garcia is a lawyer and former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He was commissioned to independently investigate the allegations of corruption around the infamous bidding process that determined the hosts for the World Cup finals in 2018 and 2022, won by Russia and Qatar. It was supposed to be the report to end all reports.
Under Sepp Blatter’s leadership, Fifa have refused to publish the report. Instead, they produced a selective summary, written by one of their own executives. Embarrassingly, this summary was immediately disputed by Mr. Garcia who said it contained: “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations”. Garcia appealed the summary and Fifa refused to provide a corrected version. Fifa then reported Garcia to its own disciplinary committee for speaking publicly and Mr Garcia subsequently resigned as an independent investigator for the Fifa Ethics Committee (now there’s an oxymoron for you). Seriously, you couldn’t make this shit up.
Sepp Blatter has been in charge at Fifa for 17 years and over that period, the drip drip drip of his Presidency has brought Fifa to crisis point. It rolls from one catastrophic revelation to another and seems far happier with a cover up rather than a clean up. Mr. Blatter remains in denial. As he seeks a fifth term in office at the age of 79 (after promising during the last election that this current term would be his last), he is nothing more than a despot with a smile and a snout in the trough; and what a trough it is.
It is time for change to football’s word governance. Watch this space…more to follow.