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20th October 2015

FIFA chaos as the world cries out for change

With Platini, Blatter and leading football chiefs embroiled in a web of problems, it is time for change

The Third Reich, the Roman Empire and Kerry Katona’s showbiz career are all things that saw a pitiful demise from positions of such unimaginable strength, and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) are in danger of finding themselves in a very similar situation.

Football’s governing body, FIFA, are facing a power struggle due to the stream of accusations of corruption against its highest members—with UEFA president Michel Platini and FIFA president Sepp Blatter both being given a 90-day suspension last week over a payment of £1.35 million to Platini himself unaccounted for. On a basic level, football is a game loved by millions, but without a governing body for the international running of this sport, it will falter—and with the current disarray that FIFA are in, football is already suffering.

For a very long time now, football is no longer just a game. It is no longer the case that each match is the most important thing to do with football; politics has become increasingly more important in football as the years have gone on. This is of course a good thing, as these politicians organise international football and help it to grow further—but with politics comes corruption and with this, football is dragged down and the game could be ruined. FIFA need to stop and start again, but with men like Platini and Blatter heading the organisation, this will never work.

Prior to voting, the FIFA inspection team came to the conclusion that Qatar was the only “high risk” option overall from all candidates to host the 2022 World Cup. And yet, Platini and many others still voted for Qatar, who gained 14 of the 22 votes of the executive committee in December 2010.

The world fell to outrage and pursuits to get the corruption out of the game increased. It was always presumed that there were obviously different reasons than football that lead to this decision, and Blatter, of all people, was the man to confirm these reports. In the voting for this the French and German governments intervened in the choosing of the 2022 World Cup—to try and push for a Qatar win; a place with three stadiums in place, and now thousands less workers due to deaths on the job. This was due to French and German business projects in the richest country in the world that could be made even more profitable from a Qatar World Cup.

This is evidence for not only the corruption in football, but also the magnitude of it as the French and German governments show their muscle too—but with the right people in charge of FIFA running it the right way, then this may have been averted.

Platini and Blatter find themselves emulating Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams—everyone knows it’s time to call it a day, except themselves. You have had your time in the spotlight, but that fire will not relight anymore and it’s time to let go.

Despite in June Blatter saying he would stand down following American and Swiss investigations into possible money laundering, he still found himself sat in his chair soon after. When the allegations against Blatter had began, squeaky-clean Platini had put on his cape to save the day and put himself forward for election. He put himself forward as the man ready to make football about football again, but now finds himself under investigation and suspended from having any interaction with football whatsoever.

This is due to £1.35 million being given to Platini, and no written record of this being kept. This is money that Platini should have apparently been given in a period of FIFA’s history when they did not have enough money to pay him, so it has been given to him more recently. This is the same period in FIFA’s history where they enjoyed surplus revenue of £80 million.

The whole episode certainly doesn’t seem to make sense, but Platini protests his innocence, and says it was a verbal contract between the two men. This is definitely not shining Platini or Blatter in any positive light. With the Dutch, German and Danish associations all saying they are assessing their loyalty towards Platini in the presidential election, and the English FA saying they are “following the ongoing investigation,” a man who looked like he may have saved football is under some extreme pressure here.

Many of the officials in world football find themselves in this spider web of deceit—even the current acting president, Issa Hayatou, was reprimanded in 2011 over bribery allegations. Another example of a football chief entangled in this problem is Thai FA head Worawi Makudi, currently suspended for 90 days, who was found guilty in a Thai court for forgery in his re-election as head of the Thai FA.

Even Gregg Dyke, the man seen as looking quite clean in all these proceedings, is under some pressure at the moment by giving Platini his full backing despite these issues, and no manifesto being in place or any other candidate for that matter. That’s like voting for an X Factor winner before they’ve even sang.

Blatter may finally leave, after finding himself trapped in the revolving door of the FIFA HQ for the last year, but the problems in football are deeper than one man. Football needs a fresh start, but unless Alan Sugar hosts a special edition of The Apprentice, I can’t see anybody different coming to the forefront any time soon.

There are options of course. Blatter and Platini can go, and we can find ourselves with a different person at the top, and he may run the organisation better. With Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan officially submitting his candidature for the presidency this is a real opportunity for FIFA to progress, but the problem with this is that the world may find itself slaughtering a tiger to set loose a lion, as simply installing a new person at the top will not get rid of all the problems.

Another option is being expressed from the cries from the back of the room—for the Swiss government to put FIFA in state control and just simply start again. If there’s still 22 players, one ball and a referee, then who really has a problem with starting again? This is extremely unlikely, but football is definitely at a stage now where change is necessary, and the politicians need to be reminded of the game they represent.

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