ANALYSIS: The FIFA election and the future of football

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter has been FIFA president since 8th June 1998

It is D-Day and many in the world would tune in for reports from the FIFA elections that will choose the organisation’s 10th president.

It has been a momentous few months with the body running on fumes after Sepp Blatter was ‘deposed and banned’ as UEFA president; Michel Platini was harangued out of his position as successor.

FIFA, the world football governing body, has more countries, 207 at the last count (Kuwait and Indonesia are not yet eligible to vote). on its books than even the United Nations (193 member states). And it is a conglomerate that has ensured that the high rollers [Europe] can mix with the ‘slummers’ [Africa + South America] on an even playing pitch. But unfortunately, they have then allowed corruption to walk into their corridors and make a residence in Switzerland.

The five contestants

Name Age Country
Gianni Infantino 45 Switzerland
Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa 50 Bahrain
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein 40 Jordanian
Jerome Champagne 57 France
Tokyo Sexwale 62 South African

So, the February 26 election is a very important plebiscite through which the game for the world can regain its conscience as a unifying factor and not platform for a band of charlatans, more interested in lining their pockets.

A former member of the FIFA ethics committee, Les Murray, said on the eve of the election that none of the five candidates is good enough to hold the post.

“I would go as far as to suggest to FFA [Australia Football Federation] that they abstain from the vote.

“This is because none of the candidates is suitable. None is in fact worthy of the job.

“This is not a reference to the moral baggage most of them carry. It is more that not one of them has a substantial track record for fighting FIFA corruption and agitating for reform.”

The basic challenge the next FIFA president will face is the obnoxious issue of corruption of all cadres of the body.

The spectre of corruption did not start hanging over FIFA just yesterday, British journalist, Andrew Jennings has been wailing from the top of Big Ben since 2006 and documented his findings in his book titled, ‘Foul’.

In it, Blatter was accused of corruption so as to ensure that he continued to stay in power.

Dave Zirin, an American journalist added his dose of opprobrium when he said ‘nonfeasance and malfeasance are endemic to FIFA leadership’.

But today that body must begin its transformation because it is in charge of the greatest of social currencies – football.

Though some have postulated that the five candidates are just different heads of the hydra-headed monster.

FIFA Presidents since 1904

Name Country Age Assumed

Presidency

Tenure
Robert Guerin France 28 1904 – 1906
Daniel Woolfall UK 54 1906 – 1918
Jules Rimet France 48 1921 – 1954
Rodolphe Seeldrayers Belgium 78 1954 – 1955
Arthur Dreway UK 64 1955 – 1961
Stanley Rous UK 66 1961 – 1974
Joao Havelange Brazil 58 1974 – 1998
Sepp Blatter Switzerland 62 1998 – 2015
Issa Hayatou Cameroon 69 2015 – 2016

Murray added, ““Sure, all five have suddenly become reformists since the opportunity arose to run for the presidency. But before that they were silent on FIFA corruption even though, surely, they knew or suspected it was festering under the surface.

“Two of them, Sheikh Salman and Prince Ali, have at various times been members of FIFA’s executive committee. Champagne was deep in FIFA’s inner sanctum for years. Yet during those times they said and did nothing about corruption.”

So we await the result to crown the world’s most influential individual, as Friday’s election goes ahead despite a bid to freeze the process from Prince Ali, which CAS rejected.


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