Monday 24 October 2016

John Giles: Corruption has always been a part of the game we love

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter

IT's a start. Somebody had to make a start and it looks like everyone who loves the game of football has reason to say thank you to the FBI and the US Department of Justice today.

Corruption has always been rooted deep in football. It has always been with us like a nasty shadow. It is still a professional game run by amateurs.

Policy is set by people who most likely were not very good at the game but had a talent for book keeping and note-taking and by staying around for long enough, were elected to important positions.

They are mostly harmless, along for the ride and the nice hotels but not really capable of doing any damage by themselves.

But some are smarter than the rest and see the possibilities. That kind of set-up will always be wide open to unscrupulous types who see vulnerability a mile off and have no qualms about taking advantage of it.

It is a huge and complex issue and I wouldn't begin to try to address all the problems that exist in the administration of the game but I do understand why they happen.

Football has always run along a twin track. There's a business side which involves huge amounts of money and then there's a political side. Somewhere in between, the sharp boys take their cut.

The politics of the game are mostly about the men who need to be elected, people like Sepp Blatter (pictured below). Once they get in, it is very difficult to get them out. After all, they make the rules!

They exist in a bubble which is rarely influenced by the outside world or even the demands of running a massive, unwieldy thing like the game of football across the world.

They exist to be elected and to carry their power through to the next term and then the next term and so on. Whether they ever do anything to earn the right to be an Executive Committee member is neither here nor there.

At a certain point, they have made enough alliances and scratched enough backs to make sure they can stay where they are for life it they feel like it.


Once they achieve that ambition, they can set about feathering their nest or working on behalf of which ever company or lobby group they fancy.

It's a licence to print money and that has been the case for as long as I can remember. Football's humble roots have always left it open to manipulation by sharp boys in suits with a good line of chat and larceny in their hearts but as the game grew into the monster it has become, the opportunity for illegality mushroomed as well.

For once, someone has taken a very strong spotlight and shone it right into the dark corners. From what I'm reading out of America, the amounts of money are staggering and the FBI will not stop until they have everyone involved in this vast corruption behind bars.

Blatter is lying low in Zurich but he must be the next to go. It is farcical to me that FIFA would carry on as if nothing has happened but not surprising.

FIFA needs to be cleaned out, flushed of all the bad elements which brought us to a point where we needed the FBI to go in and arrest people.

When people go unchallenged for years, they come to believe that they are untouchable. I'm certain that Blatter and his pals believed that they could do what they liked without consequence and that is the reason they defied all football logic to award the World Cup to Qatar.

That must be revisited. To be honest, I think it was the decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in the middle of a furnace which brought us to where we are today. It was such a ludicrous proposition to anyone involved in the game that there had to be something wrong with the process.

The BBC and the Sunday Times did great work to expose Blatter and FIFA's weaknesses but they were threatened legally and fobbed off.

Those journalists have been fully vindicated and now that the Swiss authorities have the wind at their backs and the might of the FBI and the US Justice Department helping out, I hope and pray that we will get to the bottom of it all and that people will be punished and driven from football for good.


I know it is not as simple as that. I know that football needs to be reformed from top to toe and that are many more people like Blatter out there just waiting for him to go so that they can move in.

You cannot stop human nature and as long football is run along these quasi-political, vote-based lines, men like Blatter will always find a way in.

But as I said at the start of this piece, you have to start somewhere and for me, 2015 will be a great year for the game if we see corrupt men jailed because they used and abused football for personal gain when they were charged with its care.

Clean the bad people out of FIFA and maybe then we can take a serious look at starting afresh.

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