User:Magint/FIFA: Corruption, The Modern Game And The World Cup
This paper will give an insight into the corruption that has spread through the peak football body and where it stands today as a brand, how the corruption has resulted in the suspension of two FIFA members and the tarnished image it has left behind. Other headings discuss the concept of globalisation including technological advances, player freedom of choice and the reach FIFA has had in spreading its ethos, and the implications or aims of FIFA in achieving or attempting to gain a measure of reconciliation in the South African World Cup 2010.
FIFA has experienced a chequered history of corruption and unethical business and political practices that have clouded the image FIFA has tried to promote to the world. Business relationships that were once the mega ventures that promised immense economic returns have been revelead to have collapsed, due to the illegal activities of its members.
The most recent story circulating the news is the suspension of Qatar member Mohamed Bin Hammam in collusion with Trinidad and Tobago member Jack Warner involved in attempted persuasion of Caribbean football and government officials in order to secure advantage over Sepp Blatter in the election of the FIFA presidency.
Where does FIFA fit into society, how do we react to such allegations effecting the organisation that is supposed to be appreciated by millions of people around the world. Greed is so powerful that it blindsides people, governance is the mechanism that must oversee all business and political activities that must be undertaken ethically, reform is needed to curb the corruption. Globalisation is a real challenge in football today as it is difficult to monitor administrative protocol when the reach of FIFA extends to many nations around the world, and raises the question of can that nation be trusted, how do we know if FIFA members wont act unethically when outside the realm of HQ?
The World Cup is a stark example of how corrupt activity has infiltrated the infrastructure phases of setting up the tournament, business conflicts of interests involved with marketing and advertising rights and what the world cup has done for Africa beyond the tournament and progression into the future
Perhaps the solution to the problem starts at the top with, Sepp Blatter the FIFA president, which may prove to be a contentious issue due to the fact that HQ is in Switzerland, which as a neutral nation, enjoys tax exemption and immunity from anti-corruption policies, the Swiss government will take three years to investigate its protected policies, which will be a complicated matter to handle given the fact that Switzerland has multiple presidents who each have an equal share of power The Guardian, 2011.
Corruption and the Toll it Takes
Sepp Blatter, has had the difficult job of defending the image of FIFA in light of the bidding to gain hosting rights for the upcoming 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The scandal or allegations being laid against such bidding nations like Qatar, supposedly embroiled in corruption over Russia being awarded the rights to host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar to subsequently follow in 2022. Mohammed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner from Qatar and Trinidad and Tobago respectively have been at the centre of the controversy, both were involved in a financial cover up located in the Carribean in order to secure majority votes over Sepp Blatter. Mohammed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner were both suspended from any involvement in further footballing activities pending further investigation. Both significant figures within the FIFA member hierarchy have brought shame to the organisation in an attempt to sway a nations voting stance in favour of one illegitimate party.
What makes the issue more frightening and ultimately crippling is mention of Russian Mafia influence over Russian football, including match fixing etc. [FIFA World Cup 2018, 2022 Decision Disaster: FIFA Corruption?, 2010]. In such circumstances does Sepp Blatter feel in control? it is intimidating when practices like unethical gift giving, exerting dangerous influence over an organisation in order to win hosting rights are in contradiction to the rules of conduct set out, [Code Of Ethics]. Sepp Blatter has made it clear that he will tackle corruption head on in his fourth term as president, adopting a zero tolerance on corruption doctrine. The ethics committee have stated that players that confess to corruption, for instance being involved with illegal activity where they are receiving financial benefits outside of contract agreements, player penalties can be reduced by the committee, The Times of India, 2011. Sepp Blatter is at the tip of the iceberg, corruption is dangerous to tackle in itself, it must be cleaned up, although what happens when criminal activity that is funding economies is stymied because the universal norm is that it is wrong. Important to note is the corruption being documented in nations like Israel, Italy, Greece etc. organised crime is at the forefront of the organisation, countries like Italy and especially Greece are fiscal sinkholes are at their hands and knees from powerful thugs who control and monopolise their nations through sport gambling.
Sepp Blatter needs to reassure all FIFA confederations that a solution to corruption requires the assistance of all players, officials, parties involved whether involved in the business, political motivations or interests of playing under various confederations. What FIFA cannot guarantee is player safety from coming forward and providing evidence indicting individuals who are involved in illegal activity and what consequences will become following players inherently attempting to do the right thing. The big picture in FIFA's eyes would most probably be what happens when pandoras box is opened, violence and intimidation is what i come back to. There are networks out there that have powerful influence over political opinion, and FIFA need to tread carefully in their manner of conducting business with clients, who knows who's bed that client or partner is in with. FIFA's reputation and its relations with all confederations has been tainted, there is a lack of transparency amongst members and even business associates, empty promises have been made and FIFA is at a turning point, that has shaken the bonds of trust amongst associates. Sepp Blatter together with his Ex-Co members are to present anti-corruption reforms to re-instill a sense of duty and obligation to the world that FIFA is commited to stamping out corruption altogether and to rebuild diplomatic relationships with its confederations that protect there own interests [Radnedge & Bisson, 2011].
FIFA and Globalisation
FIFA or in more general terms football in a geoplotical sense, began in England and soon spread via ports in Europe and further abroad to Latin America. Football grew and encompassed the world in the early 20th century with railway networks and eventually media/television followed suit, globalisation is the great venture of FIFA to naturally expand into new territories and to ultimately develop and strengthen partnerships with many nations Coerts, 2010. FIFA as an organisation is an empire like body that is attempting to conquer nations but not in an oppressive military manner, but to preach or share gifts that the game promotes, to increase awareness of the power sport has in binding and eliminating prejudices that divide a country's minority groups.
Breaking down ethnic barriers, improving and extending the reach of global communication, and even the notion of cross border players that may have reservations about playing for championship league teams, regardless of qualms about past country to country hostilities are free to sign with clubs in an open market economy, Boniface, 2002, p. 3. Globalisation can however be frightening in some cases where there are cultural shocks for migration of players, for instance coming from poor nations to rich nations or vice versa, the danger can lie in the safety of player management for instance, is the government corrupt or is the mafia involved in football which is prevalent in Russian and Colombian football. Now Sepp Blatter may not be innocent but unable to be asserted to be guilty, cross border transfers of star players may not always be secure from dangerous people, involuntarily a player may be helping finance further criminal activity without player knowledge.
Sponsorship is a globalisation aspect of modern football, the nexus of business and sport, player signings usually include sponsorship deals when signing on with clubs, Nike, Reebok etc. Sport and business have dramatically changed the scope of international competition, winning or losing doesnt just affect the team, sponsors or stakeholders have gambled and the result can significantly effect their market share. Players are not only the representation of a club, a company (Tiger Woods and Nike for example) have taken the gamble to invest in that team/players, organised crime can eventuate from poor performance or to gain favourable advantage over rivals, match fixing or faking injuries etc. When a team is performing poorly the result may be informal/threatening deals made behind closed doors between players and seedy characters that present frightening ultimatums, to entrap players within a crime syndicate that have the power to destroy reputations.
Reconciliation is a major factor in the globalisation trend toward FIFA expanding their organisation into other nations, Japan and Korea is a stark example of a severe division. Globalisation or a sense of peace has not been achieved through football in both nations, regardless of a measure of reconciliation achieved in grass roots level, political and culutral differences stand in the way of complete reconciliation. FIFA will keep expanding globally, the game will reach almost every nation on the planet, yet some historical differences cannot be mended, both Asian nations in their minds eye view the spread of football as an exertion of economic westernisation. Both superpowers in the electronics and technology industries during WWII and Cold War, heavily dependent on the west for oil and both militarily fierce, with factions of right wing and conservative political motivations, have been unable to achieve a measure of peace between each other. One way it can be accomplished is on the world stage by competing in a sport that has no rival, sport cannot heal decades of political, economic, cultural hostilities, it only expresses the freedom of nations to embrace football as a distraction from the complexities of the world Manzenreiter & Horne, 2004.
World Cup 2010
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was a global presentation to the world to showcase Africa as a continent through the beautiful game, in a much grander level it was to help unite each African nation and to perhaps achieve 'detente'. Although once the crowds dispersed and the champagne celebrations finished, the capitalist's were that much better off, able to return to their luxurious palaces, revelling in the fact that the poor stay poor and the rich stay rich, the great tragedy of the 2010 World cup for FIFA is that the real victors were not Spain, but the capitalist leaches.
The reality of setting up and hosting an event like the 2010 World Cup involves substantial monetary investments to finance the event, here in lies the danger or the likelihood of 'conflicts of interests to arise. The South African Government committed billions of Rands in investments in logistics, infrastructure, communication, security etc. to ensure the World Cup was a success. However apart of the creation of the world cup includes things like improving infrastructure and developing businesses around the stadiums and associated partners, here in lies the problem. Transparency International express that heavily financed projects like setting up a countries infrastructure in preparation for a World Cup, make it easy to conceal corrupt business activities including: varied labour sizes, inflated equipment pricing, bribes/fraud etc. become lost in the complex contracting system Schulz-Herzenberg, 2010. It is almost impossible for FIFA to impose clearly defined governance policies because the corruption has dispersed to such a devastating effect, the competition on field may be fierce, but the behind the scenes political, criminal competition is despicable, unethical government tenders are in abundance.
The construction industry is easily corrupted with a complex web of contractors and sub contractor with employees that make up the infrastructure labour force who are required to complete time constrained projects in time for the opening games. Public sectors intersect with private companies, kill or be killed scenarios, illegal award schemes undermine the system and go unnoticed because of the intricate nature of the construction industry.
World Cups are a gift to the people of that particular nation, in South Africa's case it was aimed at showcasing the African continent to the world, uniting and bringing together all the cultural, religious inequalities of each country and to bury the tragic history of the continent. The tournament has hopefully left behind a legacy something to be remembered forever, sadly though beyond the glorious tournament Africa still remains a third world country, social-economic development may have been minutely increased due to GNP, capitalism and corruption reigned supreme, exploiting a political, altruist expression of freedom. Africa still remains divided as history demonstrates with colonialism from Europe and abroad, which is the main problem, FIFA have showcased Africa to the world yes. But in order for capitalism to succeed, on one side of the coin you will have the developed world and then you'll have the third world, which as demonstrated makes it very easy for corruption and exploitation to occur, a World Cup will not heal a nation, in South Africa's case it merely confirms the developed worlds scramble for riches by taking everything and leaving nothing but scraps to be fought for.
FIFA is an organisation, in a continuous state of crisis, due to the fact that its executive members are not to be trusted, Sepp Blatter may be guilty but the reputation or tarnished image FIFA has promoted is the most difficult task in order to regain a sense of integrity in the worlds eye. Survival of the fittest seems to be the approach taken by its members with the ultimate goal in mind of influencing or persuading poorer/less developed countries by means of bribing or illegal activity in order to gain the upper hand over opposing candidates, in this case Blatter v Bin Hamman.
Where does an organisation stand when society thinks of such an organisation? It is the top echelon or body that should spread the joy and unity of football to every nation around the world, instead of eliminating political/economic/religious boundaries dividing nations, FIFA merely conquer a nation through soccer and capitalise on the market opportunities available upon entry. Globalisation in todays world is about business, not just the opportunity for players to transfer to other international leagues but the chance for FIFA members to extort a country to gain power and control, business domination is the key, economic contribution is pushed aside.
FIFA members have immense power within their role and thus have considerable business networks which can cloud and contradict world cup celebrations for instance the FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa. South Africa was to be a political, cultural, religious catalyst for change that could be used to unite Africa as a continent and to promote respect and tranquility through football. Although as history demonstrates with colonialism and preceding wars, that Africa will remain a third world continent, where the Europe, USA, Asia etc. who exert tremendous business power and influence over political powder kegs. Unfortunately the input of funds into a World Cup such as South Africa require extraordinary amounts of money, which in turn only produce a finite return on economic GNP, which is tragic because once the tourist head home and the celebrations cease, whats been done in benefit to Africa in terms of social, economic or political development, most likely nothing, football is not the solution to Africa!
Do we as individuals or as free willed citizens look at FIFA and think wouldn't it be great if i was playing in the English Premier League, that sits underneath the governing body, do we unanimously agree that FIFA are untrustworthy and represent the very evil that is wrong in international sport. Hypothetically an individual might be floating on cloud 9, peaking in our football careers with no care in the world, but behind the scenes, your salary/income is the result of hidden hedge funds, corporate theft. Our contract salary might be directly/indirectly related to Mafia money laundering or blood money, that requires professional players adopt a 'no questions' asked policy, just let your managers report to FIFA. It may be hard to accept that FIFA are one of the most corrupt organisations in the world, is Sepp Blatter secure on the throne free from prosecution, due to the fact that Switzerland as HQ is a neutral nation, can he be touched or will the economic criminal activity reign supreme.
- Boniface, P. (2002, June). Football As A Factor (And A Reflection) Of International Politics, pp. 1-12, Retrieved 22/10/11 from URL: http://www.ceri-sciences-po.org
- Code of Ethics, Retrieved 17/10/11 from URL: http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/administration/01/12/41/40/rulesofconduct.pdf
- Coerts, S. (2010, December 22nd) Fifa has made historic decisions in terms of sport and geopolitics this year - Sepp Blatter, Retrieved 22/10/11 from URL:http://www.goal.com
- Conn, D. (2011, June 1st), Sepp Blatter allies dismiss Fifa corruption charges as 'English lies'. The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk
- FIFA World Cup 2018, 2022 Decision Disaster: FIFA Corruption?, (2010, December 2nd), NowPublic News Coverage, Retrieved 17/10/11 from URL: http://www.nowpublic.com/sports/fifa-world-cup-2018-2022-decision-disaster-fifa-corruption-2734034.html
- Manzenreiter, W., Horne, J. (2004), Football goes east: business, culture and the people's game in China, Japan and South Korea, Routledge, USA and Canada, Retrieved from URL: http://books.google.com.au
- Radnedge, C., Bisson, M. (2011, October 5th). FIFA Ex-Co Members Hit Back at Sepp Blatter Critics, World Football Insider, Retrieved 19/10/11 from URL: http://www.worldfootballinsider.com
- Schulz-Herzenberg, C. (2010, August 27th). PLAYER AND REFEREE: CONFLICTING INTERESTS AND THE 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP, Institute For Security Studies, pp. 236, Retrieved 22/10/11 from URL: http://www.iss.co.za/uploads/mono169.pdf
- (2011, October 17th), FIFA to introduce amnesty for match-fixers. The Times Of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com