Saturday, June 06, 2015

The worrying part about FIFA corruption

Every football fan in the World has suspected (if not outright known) that there was something fishy in FIFA: they organize tournaments that turn out to be great because of the fans and the players, but they obviously care little about fans and players, which is why fans and players care little about FIFA. Surely it is annoying that they make tons of money, but more annoying is when they make idiotic interventions in the game itself, such as inconsistent approaches to fair play, give prizes on the random rather than the futbolistic qualities, and consideration of money rather than what is best for players and fans (and this is where the World Cup in June in Qatar was outright stupid, and just as stupid, a World Cup in November. So no matter how you turn it the World Cup in Qatar is stupid).
Of course, if FIFA officials have embezzled money they should face justice, just like any other criminal. But as a football fan this is not the major problem, nor does this majorly affect the game. If it did, that would be the worrying part. The reports of FIFA paying off the Irish Football Federation for them not to complain of France's controversial qualification for the 2010 World Cup, is incredibly worrying.
Let us remember what happened: in the last play-off match Ireland was facing France. 10 minutes before the end of the match Thierry Henry scored the winning goal for France, in a situation where he had clearly handled the ball. The goal was accepted, and France went to the World Cup. Ireland would have had all reasons in the world to complain, but FIFA paid them not to.
Is it that FIFA did not want an investigation that would show that maybe there was an agreement that France should qualify? That the referee knew he had to ignore a handball? That some French players had been informed they could get away with things?
There is no doubt that in terms of money France was a more attractive team than Ireland. So did these FIFA people who rule football actually also decide the results...? That is what has me really worried about the latest allegation.
In the book "The Fix", Declan Hill documents worrying match fixing tendencies, possibly even at World Cup level. It is so worrying we, as football fans, may choose to ignore it. The possibility that FIFA manipulates football results is also one of those we will prefer to ignore: it is ok if they steal all the money, but manipulating results would be unacceptable.

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