October 18th, 2010
12:00 PM ET

FIFA must challenge any potential corruption cancer

Members of the FIFA executive committee, of which Sepp Blatter is president, have been accused of selling their votes of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup election in December.
Members of the FIFA executive committee, of which Sepp Blatter is president, have been accused of selling their votes of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup election in December.

The news that two FIFA executive committee members allegedly considered selling their votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup election came as a surprise to many and, if proven true, will be highly corrosive for the game in general.

The game of football generates passion around the world like no other sport and its reputation is rightly guarded by those who are in charge. FIFA president Sepp Blatter's concern over the severity of such accusations was evident by his release of an open letter to the world's media, where he sought to quell anxiety over the legitimacy of the current voting process.

It is a crucial time for world football’s governing body, with the announcement of the winning bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup scheduled for 2 December. Consequently the sport will be keen to show that it is not subject to the same sort of corruption that has blighted other areas of sporting competition.

The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games scandal - in which a senior member of the U.S. Olympic Committee resigned over allegations of taking cash for votes - tainted the image of the movement as a whole. The recent cries of foul play concerning the conduct of Pakistani cricketers in a Test match with England - though still yet to be proven - have, rightly or wrongly, similarly left a cloud of doubt hanging over the legitimacy of other cricket matches.

The fact that some FIFA executive committee members live in developing countries, where salary disparity can make the accepting of large sums of money in return for a vote more appealing, is not an argument that can ever hold weight; their role is to be an ambassador for the good of the game, nothing else.

Let's be honest, the abuse of office by those in power to ensure personal 'projects' are successful has happened since the beginning of time, but if it is shown that such practices are taking place at the highest levels of FIFA's organization then drastic measures need to be taken.

In this case, Mr. Blatter should consider the following course of action:
1) Ban both executive committee members for life
2) Hold an emergency meeting with all executive committee members before the World Cup vote in December.
3) Increase the power and the reach of the ethics committee, encouraging it to randomly visit and audit its executive members
4) Introduce a five-year term for executive committee members
5) Where possible and appropriate, increase the salaries of executive committee members in order to reduce their need to look for extra sources of income

This five-point plan would help FIFA in the event of any guilty verdict, it would also send a message to the world that the organization is open to change and regards the sport's integrity as its top priority.

One of the problems FIFA currently face is that it is seen as an entity stuck in the past with men in their 60s and older, making decisions that affect the lives of generations far younger.

By introducing five-year terms for executive committee members, you would lower the average age and stop certain people from feeling they can do nothing wrong. The higher turnover would also encourage transparency because their terms would be assessed and analyzed, increasing transparency and competence.

Corruption is a cancer that can affect even the most rigorous of institutions but it is FIFA's challenge to show that, as leaders of the world's most loved and played game, football is free and will remain free of such underhand coercive forces.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. alehandro

    There's one big problem with this blog. The two men in question are not accused of seeking money for personal gain but of seeking money to fund grassroots projects in their home nations. Still no excuse for wanting cash for votes but a crucial point all the same. If FIFA was true to its stated aim of sharing the wealth, then those from less wealthy regions might not be tempted into corruption to fund their domestic football projects. This case, if proven, does undermine FIFA, but not in the way this blogger implies. It undermines its economic policies more than it's integrity, which makes Blatter as culpable as anyone.

    October 18, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  2. Gregory

    One of the accused cannot use the excuse of grassroots soccer development for accepting cash4votes. He has never at any point established any initiative either as a matter of policy or actual development in the way of building grassroots soccer in Nigeria. He has worked at the highest levels of sports and not on any occasion lobbied, pushed-for or on a personal level done anything good for grassroots football in Nigeria.

    October 18, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  3. hassan mohammed

    @Alehandro,

    One of the men involved is from my Country Nigeria. He has been a permanent cancer afflicted to the game of football in the country. If you read the news reports, it was stated clearly that he demanded that the money be paid into his personal account. He was not lobbying on behalf of the Federation but for his pockets. We told Sepp Blatter immediately after the world cup that Amos Adamu was destroying football in Nigeria and hence giving FIFA a very bad name in Africa, but Blatter refused to heed to our plea. I hope he gets banned for life. We are anxiously awaiting FIFA's decision which we hope will spell a new dawn for Nigerian Football.

    October 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  4. The Dane

    Mr. Pinto, there are few, if any points, that you highlight which I can disagree with, however, you fail to note the most elementary cause and effect of poor leadership. In order to fully understand the questionable actions across several members and committees within the FIFA organization, you should apply a more forthcoming picture of how the organization has been running under Mr. Blatter. Many of the multiple accusations against Blatter, although never proven, have severely eroded the ethical compass and guidelines of FIFA – it always starts and ends at the top; your narrative should provide a deeper perspective than a five point list of elementary and generic bullets accompanied by some differences in salary bands across geographical regions! Respectfully, The Dane

    October 18, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  5. JLS

    FIFA is a corrupt POS! And as long as they are running the show I will never ever watch another soccer match outside of the MSL. The world cup is a joke!

    October 18, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  6. CorruptFIFA

    It starts at the top – BLATTER HIMSELF needs to be fired from his position. It's under his rule – he MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE for the CORRUPTION. There is much more beneath the surface of this than meets the eyes. The whole of FIFA must be changed, as the sport is losing credibility everywhere. Shame on all of us for letting this happen.

    October 18, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  7. Ajax Morrello

    The argument that the 2 members of the executive committee were trying to develop "grassroot projects" beggars belief. Let's call a spade a spade, they asked for gratification to discharge a function that they were meant to discharge fairly and without any external influence. They should be removed from their positions and if possible prosecuted

    October 18, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Reply
  8. Fred A. Lewis

    alehandro wrote: "The two men in question are not accused of seeking money for personal gain but of seeking money to fund grassroots projects in their home nations...."

    True enough but then people who are adept and experienced at this sort of bribery / extortion are also equally adept with the language they employ- "Oh... it's not a "bribe" it's a "donation" – It's not extortion it's a "fine" or "permit fee"...

    This is all just smoke and mirrors – after all, as reported in the complete coverage of the story – Why did they then suggest the the money be paid to them "personally" & in "CASH"...

    That, in of itself, may not be a smoking gun but I would bet that 10/10 juries would convict on that basis...

    Let's just keep it real OK – they had their hands out and should be cast out for it... Time for some real punishments to be handed out by FIFA to these people ruining the sport at the governing level....

    October 19, 2010 at 12:21 am | Reply
  9. peter

    Usually when we find fault in an organization, we start by looking at who is in charge. Sepp Blatter has been in charge since 1998? I think it's time for him to go. The game has not improved since he has been in charge. There are tons of ways to improve the game so that even "dumb Americans" like myself can enjoy it. Goals disallowed, faking injuries, wasting time, falling over when someone just taps you... list goes on and on. This is just as much part of the "corruption" as accepting bribes are. Also, you know something is clearly wrong when he wants to award rings to the winners of the World Cup and present himself with the most expensive one.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:44 am | Reply
  10. Saya

    In the recent World Cup in South Africa Blatter wanted his toilet changed to an 'African Theme' in his 5* hotel. He also insisted that his ice cubes are solely made from Evian water.(Evian were not even sponsors). When you have officials behaving like that it's no wonder that others follow in their own way.
    Get rid of these secret ballots and make the likes of FIFA and the Olympic officials accountable. That would help stop the corruption.

    October 19, 2010 at 7:53 am | Reply
  11. Smilev

    I strongly advice that FIFA should not leave any stone unturned in the course of the investigation of this bribery scandal. Dr. Amos Adamu has been a very serious decease to Nigeria football that seems incurable. Banning him if found guilty is an understatement, He should be jailed and after that banned from any sporting activity at all even as a spectator. I also plead that FIFA should not punish Nigeria for Adamu's selfish interest.

    October 19, 2010 at 11:41 am | Reply
  12. David Saxon Jones

    I do not understand why corruption in FIFA is suddenly "Shock news". For years now, most footballing fans have seen Blatter and his cronies as nothing other than a corrupt and self absorbed. Ok, it may be that certain FIFA actions have not been for "Direct" personal financial gain but it has been for "Political" gain and "Privaledge". FIFA is nothing more than a gigantic global monopoly and therefore open to corruption through all levels. This even goes down to the "election" process. For example, why is it that the leaders of FIFA are elected for internally? Football is a world game for the people of the world. The fans who pay the money are the reason that this $MULTI-Billion phenomenon exists so therefore, surely the fans should have the choice as to who leads FIFA and not a bunch of handshakers! FIFA is now a political organisation and i say this because is enforces the laws of football in every single country in the world. It has more power than any single government in all issues relating to football and in any democratic society, it is the people who elect the leaders of our nations, not the internal politicians. All they do is pick their "Captain". FIFA need an overhaul all together. There should be 4 or 5 elected candidates who ask for a "public vote" for the right to head FIFA. In the same way politicians have to cite a manifesto, so should the person wanting to lead on the worlds most powerful organisations and then they should be answerable to the fans! This is the only way to get the corruption out of FIFA. At the moment, FIFA can pretty much do exactly what they want and do it all secretly behind the scenes. To prove my point (I AM NOT SAYING THIS AS A BITTER ENGLISHMAN), How come England has only every hosted the WC once and yet. France, Italy, Germany and Mexico have all held it twice? Even Sepp Blatter admits that England is about the only country in the world that could host the World Cup tomorrow! A year before this last WC, when there was doubt that South Africa would be ready, FIFA asked the FA if we wuld be prepared to step in and host the tournament. FIFA needs more transparency and a complete overhaul with its leader elected by the football fans!

    October 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  13. Donald Ehenemba

    Hello Mr Blatter: The decision of FIFA today to suspend Nigeria indefinitely has shown one thing, that is that FIFA is a biased body which condones corruption among its officials from the so-called developing countries. There are only a few Nigerians, if any, who will be sad with the suspension because the people are tired of the incessant threats of ban from your organisation believed to be instigated by some corrupt Nigerians working with your men from Zurich.
    I will not be afraid to mention names here. Your member from Nigeria, Amos Adamu should be bold to tell FIFA and Nigerians how he got into FIFA when he was never a football man. Adamu was a government official who benefited from the so-called government interference your are suspending Nigeria for. As director in the Sports ministry, Adamu at a time became sole administrator of the NFA after the board was sacked in the early 90s. Then he did not see it as government interference. As a director, he gradually installed his men into the NFA who compensated him by nominating him for both the CAF and FIFA positions he now enjoys at the expense of the real football people he frustrated. One of such men is the late Patrick Okpomo who was stopped from attending the 1996 Africa Nations Cup in South Africa.
    That FIFA has issued Nigeria more threats of ban than any other country in its fold is the handiwork of Adamu who has manipulated and compromised FIFA officials since his ascendancy into the Executive Committee. In which country but Nigeria has FIFA officials become contractors because Nigeria must host its competitions. I want FIFA to swear that its officials never benefited from Nigeria's hosting of the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. When our late president, Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua canceled the hosting of the event because of the fraudulent inflation of the money required to the tune N37 billion, what did FIFA say of the intent to steal Nigeria's money in the name of hosting a kindergarten event which European nations host with Secondary schools facilities.
    When some NFA officials stole the association's $236,000, what did FIFA say, when the NFA booked a hotel not approved by FIFA for the 2010 World Cup, what was FIFA's reaction? Nigerians cried out that our U-17 team fielded an overaged captain for the 2009 event, FIFA playing to the script of its Nigerian accomplice, waved it aside, helping in the ruination of the development of our youth football. There was a reported case of World Cup ticket racketeering in 2006 by its official in Nigeria, FIFA turned blind eyes but found it easy to deal with another member, Bhamjee of Botswana implicated in the same case. FIFA should swear it was not bribed by its Nigerian accomplice.
    FIFA and CAF have always ran to Nigeria to help host one championship or another mainly for what their members stand to gain by the hosting and not for football development. During these times, they never bothered about government interference. What FIFA has demonstrated from this suspension, is that the sovereignty of our country is not important to it, that is that we should disobey the laws of our land and respect only FIFA statutes. I want to ask, will FIFA do the same thing in Switzerland where it has its headquarters, asking its officials not to obey the Swiss laws? If the answer is no, I then ask why the double standard when it comes to Nigeria, where the government spends over 90 percent of the funds used in running football.
    Has FIFA bothered to ask what NFA has done with all the millions of dollars it receives from it for the development of football in Nigeria? It's sad that FIFA is being run like a cult since you assumed leadership of the body. It was not so during the tenure of your predecessor, Joao Havelange.
    In the events leading to the election which a Nigerian court stopped, one of the revered footballers from Nigeria, nay Africa, Segun Odegbami wrote a petition to FIFA, complaining of the illegality of the whole process, but FIFA turned blind eyes. In 2006, your Nigerian member, Adamu, using the might of government with the tacit approval of FIFA secretary general then, Urs Linsi truncated the election of Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima and installed his stooge, Sani Lulu Abdullahi and FIFA endorsed it. In 2010, when the same method was used to remove those who are being investigated for financial fraud, your Nigerian member, because the process will not benefit him, has instigated you to suspend Nigeria from all football activities till further notice. If this suspension will help us sanitise our football system and remove the clogs in the wheel of our football progress, it is highly welcome. Nigerians say, to hell with FIFA. Our laws, like that of Switzerland where you hail from, are superior to FIFA's.
    Thank you for taking pains to read this letter.

    October 21, 2010 at 8:13 am | Reply
  14. Donald Ehenemba

    Fifa has been doling out money for development of football in developing countries, nigeria is one of them
    Can FIFA tell us about any visible development in nigerian football or an infrastructure showing FIFA's presence.

    Otherwise, if FIFA is caring about development, how do you explain a situation were there is serious decline in nigerian football, the government, fans of football has been in tears and want to intervene, FIFA dont see reasons in there action, they keep pomping money to the same Fotball associations.
    We now know where the money ends up.
    hahahahahah!
    HOLY FIFA,

    We are watching

    October 21, 2010 at 8:21 am | Reply
  15. Agostini, Diego

    FIFA is not always right.

    October 25, 2010 at 5:53 am | Reply
  16. Perry Estelle

    I have to agree with Fred Lewis
    "This is all just smoke and mirrors – after all, as reported in the complete coverage of the story – Why did they then suggest the the money be paid to them "personally" & in "CASH"...

    its all about the money
    Perry

    October 27, 2010 at 5:49 am | Reply
  17. FIFA

    The game of foot ball generates passion arround the world.so meany like this game......................

    ____________________

    bHANU

    June 30, 2011 at 6:49 am | Reply

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