Mark Gleeson

Decision time for FIFA

2010-11-29 08:40
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

Thursday is decision day for the hosting of two future World Cups, yet another unfortunately sleazy affair has tarnished the image of the game.

FIFA’s executive committee will meet in Zurich to decide the destiny of both the 2018 and 2022 finals.

It has never been properly clear why FIFA suddenly decided to do two decisions at the same time but Sepp Blatter has since admitted it was not a good decision.

With it has come vote collusion which has left the process dripping with sleaze. To top that we have seen two of the 24-man executive committee, who do the actual voting, suspended for agreeing to take bribes for their votes.

It was not much different in the past, including when South Africa went up for both the 2006 and 2010 finals. You wonder what foul deeds this country had to commit to get the votes of unsavoury characters like Ricardo Texeira of Brazil, Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and the Argentine Julio Grondona.

For all the modernity of the game, its massive leap into a professional and commercial era, and its huge appeal around the world, at its centre sits this tiny club of disrepute.

The FIFA executive committee has long been a grimy collection of men with massive delusions of grandeur, who because of the great profit generated by the game, find themselves elevated to a status far above their station. They are sometimes almost like of heads of state although they have none of the responsibility that proper leaders must show.

It is a dangerous way to run the game and a monster that Blatter finds hard to control. Members get away with the most incredible misdemenours because there is little accountability.

It took a smart newspaper sting to catch the latest football crooks.

Warner still has not paid the players from Trinidad and Tobago their promised World Cup bonus from 2006, and was found to have stolen money from ticket sales and television rights in the past. Yet this week he will have lunch with the British prime minister who is trying to persuade Warner to vote for England.

It is a measure of the massive benefit of hosting the World Cup that a prime minister would have descend in such a way to sup so publicly with a Mafia-type Don. But England are desperate, having gone from hot favourites to also rans. Instead it is likely the 2018 vote will go the way of the joint Spain/Portugal bid, with Russia pushing them.

For 2022 it hard to see past the USA, where football has a chance for another major revenue injection and to make further inroads into the American sporting psyche psyche.

After Brazil in 2014, the World Cup’s continued presence as the top sporting event of its kind will only be secured by going to places with great passion. England would be best for 2018 and the Americans thereafter. But I fancy FIFA’s leadership may have other agendas.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    fifa  |  sepp blatter

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