With top FIFA executives under arrest, facing extradition and the resignation of president Sepp Blatter, the time for reforms and rehabilitation of our sickly governing body has long since passed.
While most observers are content to let the prosecution and court cases play out and the next wave of unscrupulous executives elected, let’s be completely honest with ourselves. A quick fix of token reforms and newly elected officials simply won’t work in this situation. FIFA will only be doomed to repeat all the same mistakes of its past if this is the route we choose.
So here’s the next step. What soccer fans and players need immediately is the suspension of FIFA and its powers by the Court of Arbitration, the establishment of a temporary body to govern and an eventual complete replacement of soccer’s archaic and completely-flawed current system of governance. Anything short of this will only lead to history repeating itself. Its baffling why none of the world`s media are calling for this action and most are still busy wringing their hands at the guilty parties instead of thinking of a way forward.
Replacing FIFA would be a monumental task and the transition likely not a smooth one but in the end would limit the possibility of the current corrupt system being replaced by the status quo. Last week we were witness to a disturbing image of how far corruption and collusion has infiltrated the world’s governing body of soccer. The credibility of the world’s biggest sporting events like the World Cup and top professional leagues around the world have taken on colossal damage as dozens of sponsors have quickly chose to distance themselves with FIFA and soccer.
The name FIFA itself has long been the butt of jokes the world over and with the latest events it is doubtful anyone will ever take our current governing body seriously again. So what’s the next step? It’s painfully obvious of the need for a complete demolition of FIFA. Declaring this is one thing but achieving it is another.
Back in 2008, Canadian soccer fans, players, coaches and administrators were so disenchanted with Canada’s inept and dysfunctional governing body – The Canadian Soccer Association – they formed an organization called the Canadian Soccer Federation. The CSF held public forums and meetings with an aim to end the reign of the CSA.
“Today, we are in complete disarray, with no light at the end of the tunnel,” wrote former Canadian international and New York Cosmos defender Robert Iarusci. “I’m going to rally my fellow Canadian national team players from the past to get behind this movement.”
In the end the CSF failed to achieve its ultimate goal but its proposals eventually led to badly needed governance reforms at the CSA. While the CSA still has numerous problems and Canada’s national teams and player development have suffered greatly because of it, the situation with FIFA is much worse. But the CSF had hit on something. Get a grass roots movement of concerned soccer people to replace the dysfunctional system of governance. True soccer democracy was really at work here.
Hopefully the FIFA reformers and pundits will take a page from the CSF legacy and truly realize that subtle changes won’t cut it concerning FIFA. What we need now is a completely new organization with new conflict of interest laws, election processes and some degree of accountability. The FIFA name and organization is dead, anything short a complete replacement will only lead to history repeating itself.
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