Football’s global shame

FIFAIt was long expected but no one envisaged that global football would have been so shamed as we have witnessed over the past few days.
In many respects, while the world seems to focus attention on the key players in the leadership of the sport one has also to wonder at those who, despite all that had been revealed, cast their vote Friday last for the beleaguered Sepp Blatter.
What could possibly have motivated them to give support to Blatter at such a precarious position for the organisation?
One must also wonder how those who voted to support Blatter could face their own constituents at their respective local levels.
But let us get into the meat of the current issue.
It is safe to say that FIFA has been plagued by suspicions of corruption for several years. As recent as 30 April 2013 FIFA’s honorary president, Joao Havelange, at the age of 96, had to resign from that position after it was found that he had taken bribes during his tenure as president of the football organisation.
A report undertaken by Chairman of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, described Havelange as morally and ethically reproachable. Havelange’s son-in-law, a former FIFA Executive member, also received bribes. The same report had also declared that FIFA Executive member, 84-year-old Nicholas Leoz had received bribes.
The report therefore revealed that the matter of corruption in FIFA has been around for a long time.
Havelange, an honorary member of the IOC was forced to leave that organisation following the declaration of the report and his resignation from FIFA.
The Eckert report was quoted in part in a BBC article dated 30 April 2013 as follows…It is certain that not inconsiderable amounts were channelled to former Fifa president Havelange and to his son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira as well as to Dr Nicolas Leoz, whereby there is no indication that any form of service was given in return by them.
“These payments were apparently made via front companies in order to cover up the true recipient and are to be qualified as ‘commissions’, known today as ‘bribes’.
Bin Hammam et al
2011 and 2012 proved the most challenging years in the life of FIFA in respect of corruption scandals.
The sports world swirled with accusations of immense, deep-seated corruption in the most popular sport.
Revelations started to emerge that landed Mohammed bin Hammam of Qatar into trouble eventually leading to him being banned for life from the sport and its related activities. The former FIFA executive member was accused to being involved in a scandal that unfolded in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago during a meeting of CONCACAF. During the meeting CONCACAF members present were given envelopes containing $40,000 USD each in cash. It was deemed that this was in an attempt to get them to vote in support of Bin Hammam.
Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, of Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and CONCACAF fame, found himself embroiled in the scandal with bin Hammam.
Initially they both resigned from FIFA while denying any wrongdoing. Bin Hammam was later banned for life.
Chuck Blazer, long serving General Secretary of CONCACAF under the presidency of Warner, and a FIFA executive member, also found himself in trouble. Interestingly Blazer’s problems started when the US government officials targeted over tax problems. His issues in respect of FIFA emerged and he started collaborating with the FBI of the US to the extent that it appears he agreed to wear a wire (for wiretapping) at meetings of FIFA’s executive committee to aid in the US authorities’ investigation. The extent of the information the FBI would have gleaned from such a cooperative source is yet to be revealed.
Warner, for his part, has been the object of a rather extensive investigation undertaken in his native Trinidad and Tobago by Camini Marajh, Head Investigative Desk at the Trinidad Express newspaper.
In her article dates 25 May 2013 Marajh gave an insight into the tangled web. She wrote…Webb, who is also a FIFA vice-president and president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, is reported to have opened the Cayman account for Warner at Fidelity Bank and other offshore accounts for Blazer, the disgraced former general secretary of Concacaf. Insiders report that all of Warner’s rich TV broadcast deals were done through his Cayman company, JD International.
Webb, who is a senior manager at Fidelity Bank Cayman Ltd refused to respond to requests from this newspaper for information related to his role in setting up various offshore accounts for his former Concacaf buddies. The Warner account he is reported to have set up saw huge cash deposits from UNC financier Krishna Lalla who as reported in this series has since sued Warner for recovery of his money. Warner claimed the money was a gift.
Warner and his son Daryll are the two shareholders of JD International. Persons familiar with the Cayman account report that millions of US dollars have passed through the Fidelity Bank account: 01531 115018 00. 
Webb’s name was put forward as a possible Concacaf replacement for Warner by Burrell, who just happens to be his business partner. The new Concacaf boss, who has been something of an echo chamber to Blatter’s talk on corruption reform and transparency, co-owns a franchise of Burrell’s bakery chain in the Cayman Islands called “Captain’s Bakery”.
 According to the Warner-mounted defence, no one, including Webb the banker questioned the contents of the financial statements presented at any of the Concacaf meetings.
World Cups
Many have asked questions about the award of the FIFA World Cup of 2010 to South Africa.
The way in which it was awarded seemed rather innocuous to the casual observer. But there were too many questions lurking.
President of the African football body, Isaac Hayatou, of the Cameroun, had decided he would challenge Blatter for the presidency. Some would have thought he would be certain to get the votes of all of his African colleagues. Others would have thought the Caribbean federations would also have been in support of Hayatou if only from the vantage point of our heritage. In the end, Hayatou found himself with far too votes to won the top spot. The Africans were split and the Caribbean looked the other way. The big question was, why?
South Africa got the World Cup of 2010 and people asked why?
It was Africa’s turn, some said. If that were the case then why did Hayatou not garner more support for his bid for the presidency.
Whatever about the case of Hayatou, it seemed plausible that the image of Nelson Mandela and the cause celebre of South Africa combined to bring the Cup to African soil.
Now we are learning of the grand scheme that allowed that to happen.
Mandela must be turning in his grave.
In the general scheme of things many have asked how Trinidad and Tobago got to the World Cup in Germany. This may well now be worth an investigation all of its own. The final CONCACAF game against Mexico may well be worthy of review.
We are all aware of the fracas that erupted after the award of the World Cup of 2018 to Russia and of 2022 to Qatar.
One is certain that the wealth of Qatar may have had much to do with the award. The disturbing feature however is that it appeared that all those voting for the award of the 2022 Cup did not give due consideration to the weather conditions in the country during the summer months until the decision as taken and the formalities completed. This ended in a call for the World Cup to be played in the winter months, a request that would mean a significant upset of the European soccer leagues.
Sepp Blatter
For a very long tome people pondered on how all of the foregoing could have happened and the head of the fountain, FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, not know or be involved. It somehow seemed improbable.
Despite all that was happening around him, with key members of his Executive being forced to either resign or to find themselves arrested, Blatter maintained the moral and ethical high road. This was most evident in his statements after the sweeping arrests made by the Swiss authorities on behalf of the FBI.
Blatter recommitted himself to put an end to corruption in the sport and in his organization.
It is amazing that in spite of the corruption that has been exposed over the past four or so years in particular that Blatter could have garnered so many votes on Friday last to win with relative ease.
What was responsible for this?
Is it that most of the football federations are so adept at feeding at the trough that they were willing to allow the status quo to remain?
In a sense, were they willing accomplices to the continued corruption of an organisation that seemed awash with money and that this gave them an opportunity to behave the same way at home?
Just how much influence does money really have on the conduct of those who are elevated to the leadership of organisations of whatever nature, sport not excepted?
Blatter’s recent announcement within days of his re-election that he will step down at an Extraordinary Elective Congress called before the regular one due in Mexico City next May gives rise to a new round of discussions on how things have evolved and just how much information is likely to emerge from those arrested in respect of the depth of the corruption in the sport.
Blatter however still holds on to the moral and ethical high road. He stated…Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts.
FIFA’s current status in the world of sport stands ever so precarious. Sponsors have been forced to take note at what has happened and may review their options even as they remain committed to sponsorsing the world’s most popular sport.
The entire FIFA family needs to take serious stock of what has happened to their beloved organisation. Perhaps they may, on reflection, understand just what is meant when it is said, money is the root of all evil, and again, absolute power corrupts absolutely.