The Last Word: Corruption creeps from the bottom up

It is not just Fifa who should be in the firing line, it's the game as a whole. So you can't stop the rot
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The Independent Football

Oh wow! Fifa are corrupt and the blighter in charge is not going to do the decent thing. As football fans we haven't been so shocked, so flabbergasted, so appalled, since discovering the clubs with the biggest wallets invariably win the biggest trophies. Scandalous. Utterly scandalous.

Yes, these last few weeks have been akin to bursting into a bookies and informing the grizzled old character in the corner that not every horse that day will be running to its full merits. Or like throwing open the doors to a classroom of 16-year-olds and declaring: "Look, I know this is going to be hard to take, but Santa Claus doesn't exist." Erm, thanks for that, but we already knew.

Doubtless there are many supporters out there understandably furious at the shameless shenanigans which have kept Sepp Blatter in power at the Fradulent Intention de Football Association. But, as ever when outsiders start to rake around in ground they arrogantly assume the common man believes to be virtuous, the rage has been largely the preserve of the news media. Last week, Radio Four's Today programme actually led the news headlines on the Fifa "election". Perhaps the Home Counties set were shaken to their green wellies. But the week-in, week-out enthusiast? Ho hum.

This is a hardened bunch who, over decades of decadence and depravity, have come to understand that football is a rotten business, just like any other business. They see owners buying their most cherished clubs with nothing in their ambitions greater than profit. They see clubs being pushed to the brink of extinction because of asset-stripping. They see players kissing their shirts, then announcing they will leave because £100,000 a week isn't nearly enough for their undying loyalty. They hear of managers taking bungs, referees being bribed, talented children being bought and sold like pieces of meat.

Failed drug tests; agents cruising around in their Bentleys as court cases highlight the extent of their despicable shadiness; politicians so transparently jumping on the bandwagon; racism, sexism, violence. And throughout all this they see the cost of the season tickets soaring through the retractable roofs and realise they are paying for this mangling of the moralities. Why? Because for some reason it seems worth it.

And then the righteous ask them to rise up and protest to bring down Fifa? How absurd. There happen to be more worthy reasons for boycotting Coca-Cola or McDonald's than their backing of a rogue sporting organisation – health concerns, labour concerns, environmental concerns etc, etc. But then, the modern-day Wat Tylers argue, if these monopolistic giants were to abandon Fifa because of ethics (oh, the irony) the governing body would be forced to put their house of disrepute in order. Great. The World Cup billions would be ploughed back into the game and when the circus packed up, the host countries would not feel like they have been financially raped.

Yet what else would come to pass? Would the purified waters then proceed to wash down through the game, decontaminating the dishonesty, filtering the fraud and sanitising the sleaze as it flowed? Would it hell. It would amount to nothing more than installing Mother Teresa as the Don of the Chicago mobsters. The hoodlums would still run amok and the saintly would be able to do diddly squat about it. Football is big business and those big businessmen are not about to allow some do-gooders on a crusade to shut down the jamboree.

And there's the reality. The corruption in football does not only come from the top. It comes from the middle and even the bottom as well. Indeed, at the side of that park pitch when the father of the boy wonder insists on a consultant's wage, the corruption proceeds to surge upwards not downwards. No, this grotesque scenario is not the norm, but the fact that it goes on illustrates the rampant self-interest which is ingrained in the sport. That has little, if anything, to do with Fifa and will continue as long as football continues, regardless where the arrow is pointing on Fifa's moral compass. Just as the greed of the players, managers, officials and agents will continue.

If the fans were genuinely dis-gusted enough, there would be only one boycott worth staging: that of football itself. If they stopped attending games, stopped paying their Sky Sports subscriptions, stopped buying the shirts, the mugs, the DVDs, then the game truly would be pressed into meaningful reform. But that's never going to happen because the surface of football remains so damned beautiful.

The image of Leo Messi running over the Wembley pitch is one obvious enticement, but there are so many others when you gaze along the rich tapestry of an action-packed, intrigue-filled season. It's still the best show in town – ecstasy, agony, heroes, villains, adoration, hatred. It's got everything and nothing at the same time: the perfect mix. Believe it, the football fan isn't going anywhere but back to his seat, no matter how badly he or she has supposedly been let down by Fifa.

In truth, they haven't been let down by Fifa any more than they have by some of their own players, some of their own clubs, by the FA, by Uefa. They are being lied to constantly and being exploited constantly. That is the fans' existence and they aren't so stupid as to be ignorant to the subjugation.

Granted, Fifa are corrupt and Blatter deserves all that contempt being splattered over the remnants of his reputation. But to hold up his Fifa as the killer weed in a field full of poppies is a gross distortion. In fact, look at it sideways and you will understand how appropriate it is to have him as head of the global game. Joseph S Blatter encapsulates football.

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