FIFA is losing the battle on corruption and match-fixing signalling that the time is right for Sepp Blatter to announce his resignation.
More proof about what were once inconvenient ‘conspiracy’ theories against soccer’s ruling elite have surfaced just a little too frequently for these mammoth problems to again be merely sweep under the mat.
On the eve of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the beautiful game is in a crisis situation.
Two separate reports, one focused on match-fixing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the other exposing illegal payouts to guaranteeing the 2022 World Cup rights to Qatar have again disgraced FIFA.
On Saturday, A New York Times investigative report has warned that fixtures and referees at this year’s tournament, which kicks off June 12 in Brazil, are vulnerable to match-fixing.
“The report found that the match-rigging syndicate and its referees infiltrated the upper reaches of global soccer in order to fix exhibition matches and exploit them for betting purposes,” said the report which indicates up to 15 matches leading up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa were manipulated by match-fixing.
A 44-page classified document which the U.S. newspaper obtained sheds new light into how organized gambling has managed to infiltrate the world’s most popular sport.
Also on Saturday the BBC reported that the Sunday Times uncovered secret documents that alleges Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hamman made payments totaling $5-million to football officials in Africa in exchange for their support to the successful 2022 World Cup bid.
“The Sunday Times story alleges Bin Hamman’s strategy was to win a groundswell of support for the Qatari bid which would then influence the four FIFA executive committee members who were able to take part in the election,” trumpeted an advance by The BBC.
The governing body had already dealt with the embarrassment of corruption by former FIFA vice president and CONCACAF president Jack Warner. An investigation eventually proved fraud against FIFA and the regional governing body Warner headed.
Of course Warner denied any of the allegations until they were proven and he was eventually expelled from both governing bodies.
But what of Sepp Blatter’s status through all of this? How can the president still be in power you ask?
Similar allegations of corruption have been levied in the past against the International Olympic Committee, and not without a thorough review of its procedures and massive reform and purge of top officials was the IOC able to correct its path.
The time has again come for our game to reform itself.
In the 1970s and early 80s, British football was plagued with hooliganism, a deadly scourge which was nearly the final chapter for top-flight football in England and Scotland. Not without a huge overhaul of stadium procedures, a public outcry and political intervention was the problem reasonably contained.
These latest allegations against FIFA pose just as serious a threat to football on a global scale as hooliganism did in Great Britain. Swift action is needed.
Now is the time for FIFA president Sepp Blatter to announce his resignation. He may need to do it in order to save the game from further decay.
With Blatter still in place as president, more proof of match-fixing could further erode fans’ dwindling trust in integrity of international competition and professional leagues and eventually lead to their permanent disconnect.
The longer Mr. Blatter stays in power, the longer it will seem that the governing body is condoning corruption and match-fixing.
The pleasantries and jokes at your public addresses and press conferences won’t cut it any longer Sepp, it is time to face the music, grow a pair and say goodbye.