As the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil, the controversy around FIFA, corruption, the Qatar controversy and the man running the whole show – FIFA president 78 year old Sepp Blatter who is to run for yet another four year term heading football’s most powerful body.
The World Cup’s problem is not all the fake injuries and the goal-dives, its that the event is not ready and Sepp Blatter’s role remains highly controversial. And then, since 2010 after Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 event, the secrets and scandal around how the least appropriate venue even got chosen as hosts continue to swirl.
The Economist reports that revelations published on June 1st by the Sunday Times, a British newspaper, of e-mails detailing lavish campaigning by Mohamed bin Hammam, a disgraced former FIFA vice-president from the tiny, hot and scorching Gulf state, shocked, but did not surprise.
Football’s tarnished world governing body is now under pressure to re-run the bidding process—pressure that on past form its 78-year-old president, the ineffably complacent Sepp Blatter, will try to resist.
Even an operator as wily as Mr Blatter, who suggested last month that he intends to run for a fifth four-year term at the head of FIFA, will need all his backroom political skills to sidestep the outrage. Though there is no suggestion that he is personally corrupt, it is now clear that he has presided over what many people in football regard as a sewer of dodgy dealing.
But the entire FIFA World Cup event is tainted and tarnished by ongoing tales of corruption and indulgence at a level that’s difficult to comprehend, even for this $11.5 billion cost to Brazil.
It’s not just the 32 teams who are appearing on football’s grand stage, with all the egos and glad handing, but Blatter’s announcement of his change of heart to continue to run FIFA
Against the greed and extravagance, which has left many public infrastructure projects in Brazil doomed to remain unfinished, the internet is rammed with images of happy teams taking selfies on planes, megastar players training and stunning views of iconic beaches from the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, who has his work cut out to redeem this World Cup.
Writing in The Telegraph Paul Hayward said:
Pele may appear in the blazer of any firm willing to pay him an appearance fee but his real outfit hangs in that museum, without commercial logos, or even his name on the back.
Two years ago Fifa said Brazil needed a “kick in the backside” to ensure delivery of its football Pyramids. The world now sees that the boot should be swung the other way round.
Even in England, the John Terry of World Cups (always crashing the picture, from the margins), a tidal wave of fondness is released in the days leading up to the opening fixture. We even run features about the best 10 World Cup haircuts. Best goals, best kits, best games.
Sir Geoff Hurst, you will have noticed by now, has dined out for 48 years on his own great contribution to World Cup history.
Fifa and the big corporations can’t steal this, because you cannot steal people’s memories. The anticipation so many feel when Cristiano Ronaldo checks into his hotel suite like an old Hollywood matinee idol or Lionel Messi pads down the steps of Argentina’s plane is pretty much inviolable, though Fifa are doing their best to wreck it.