World Cup bid investigation: Like a mad and shameless king, FIFA deserves to be overthrown

We don't rely on FIFA, they rely on us. So let's take advantage of this and put an end to their insanity

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The Independent Online

Just when you thought FIFA had reached the height of delusion, the farcical nature of this organisation came to the fore once again.

Last week, FIFA gave the go-ahead to the head of its ethics committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, to publish a 42-page summary of investigator Michael Garcia's report into corruption inside the organisation. The report concluded that Russia and Qatar  had done nothing wrong while pursuing their successful bids to host the World Cup.

And that was that: or so it seemed. In an astonishing development, Mr Garcia just hours later released a statement complaining that the summary of his 430-page dossier contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts”. In as many words, it would seem that FIFA had attempted to corrupt their own report by concealing potentially damning evidence - a calamitous own goal, if you like.

The report criticised England's bid for “inappropriate” behaviour, because of a $35,000 sponsorship of a Caribbean Football Union gala dinner. Qatar were cleared of any wrongdoing - despite a $1.8m sponsorship of the CAF Congress in Angola shortly before the 2010 vote.

And Russia? Well, they too were cleared. They even claimed all evidence of their bidding process was on computers they had rented. When FIFA's investigators came-a-knocking, they claimed the computers had been “destroyed”. How convenient. Nothing to see here though, apparently.

 

So we should be able to see this report, right? A report which allows us to see into who was corrupt, where and when? Nope. FIFA said it would “breach its constitution” and the laws of Switzerland to publish Garcia's full report, suggesting that we should otherwise trust its summary as the full truth. You just wonder how much damage this report could do to the organisation which would make it so determined not to publish it.

Another twist in the tale arose on Tuesday. In an apparent attempt to relieve FIFA of any suggested wrongdoing, Eckert on Tuesday gave permission to the Attorney General of Switzerland to launch a criminal investigation into the unnamed figures guilty of corruption in the report. A seemingly clever plan, given that these people could well be former ExCo executives who FIFA would now like to see criminally pursued.

It's actions like these which convince us that FIFA is hiding something, and we need a democratic governing body which has football as it's central interest - not one which appears willing to sacrifice the credibility of football in exchange for a few extra million in the bank.

Nations have realised they can manage without FIFA, but FIFA cannot manage without the nations. Without nations, there are no sponsors. And without sponsors, there is no revenue. Knowing this, the various football bodies must unite together and rise against the way Blatter and co are tarnishing the reputation of the so-called “beautiful game”. But how?

As far as I'm concerned, there's two options. Firstly, with the backing of the 54 member associations of UEFA, England pledge to boycott the World Cups in Russia and Qatar. This was proposed by former FA chairman David Bernstein, a long-time critic of Blatter's leadership.

If there was enough backing from the bigger countries - Spain, Germany, France and Holland - the smaller ones would soon follow. Sure, it might leave the associations out of pocket, but the threat of a boycott is too great for FIFA to risk happening; losing billions in advertising revenue would ultimately limit its influence. They would eventually back down.

And then the audacious second option. A breakaway organisation, with a name like the World Football Alliance Association, is formed. There are enough central figures who are opposed to FIFA who could get this off the ground, so why not? The obvious answer is money. The amount of funding the FA and its allies would lose through loss of sponsorship would be crippling.

For now, the first option remains our only hope of real change. But the likeliness of this happening? Extremely unlikely. And sadly, this is the situation football finds itself in. Until a group of organisations, not just one, is brave enough to take the decision to boycott FIFA and its competitions, it will continue to see off its opponents as football's overriding dictator.

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