Words by Charlie Batten
After Greg Clarke’s resignation from the FA last November due to “unacceptable” language the same question arose again. Why are football’s governing bodies seemingly so useless?
For as long as I’ve been alive the beautiful game has always been stained by one thing, the beautiful game’s governing bodies. Whether it be FIFA, UEFA, the FA, or any of the other organisations, whenever I see them in the headlines it is for all the wrong reasons.
A prime example of this is with former CONCAF president and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner. Warner came into power of CONCAF in 1990, which is the football association for North America, Central America as well as the Caribbean, and his time there was marred with allegations of corruption.
In 2011 a video surfaced which clearly showed him telling members of his football federation to take bribes from Mohammed Bin Hammam who was attempting to run for FIFA president. Warner even told the members that if they didn’t want to take the bribes due to their “conscious” they could simply give it back to him.
The now-former president was eventually forced to resign from his position due to the video leak and as well as other accusations of corruption. These included allegedly receiving $10 million in bribesfoo to ensure South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup and allegedly $40 million that was meant to go towards victims of the Haiti earthquake being found in his personal account.
Of course, Jack Warner isn’t the only member of FIFA’s higher-ups to be caught doing dodgy dealings as the most well-known is former president Sepp Blatter.
Since he came into power in 1998, Blatter’s tenure has been marred with rumours of backroom dealings and unfair decisions, most obviously with the allocation of World Cups. As I’ve already said, the South Africa campaign to host the World Cup in 2010 has been accused of using bribes to secure votes and so has the awarding of World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
You’d be forgiven for being surprised when Qatar got the 2022 World Cup when you think that the country has a terrible human rights record, a national team that has never even qualified for the World Cup and the fact it has such hot summers that the tournament will have to be played in the winter which will cause havoc in the scheduling for football leagues across the globe.
Mr Blatter has also been criticised for many comments he’s made during his tenure of FIFA president such as believing there being foreign “over-representation” in club football and that gay fans should simply “refrain from sexual activity” whilst in Qatar as homosexuality is illegal there. One of the strangest moves he made whilst president was sanctioning the creation of a movie about how he became FIFA’s leader in order to almost convince everyone he’s a nice guy who likes a bit of footy just like everyone else.
At the global level, football’s governing bodies have seemingly harboured various money-hungry, self-centred crooks only out for themselves in order to become rich off of the world’s game. Luckily, the English FA has managed to stay away from large-scale corruption and instead of being run by alleged criminals is run by apparent idiots.
It’s not so much the actions that the FA take that cause national humiliation but rather their lack of sense. Recently resigned head of FA Greg Clarke is the prime example of this as during a hearing with the department of digital, culture, media and sport referred to BAME footballers as “coloured people”, said a gay footballer’s decision on whether to come out was a “life choice”, that “young female players did not like having the ball hit hard at them” and suggested that “different career interests” led South Asian people to choose careers in IT over sport.
These racially insensitive comments perfectly summarise how out of touch the FA has become. The only way to fix football’s governing bodies is to put leaders in place who aren’t just out for themselves or the money but are there to help the game grow and succeed. On a large scale, leaders need to be put in place who have run successful clubs or smaller footballing organisations. On a smaller scale, more people in the FA and FIFA need to be ex-players and coaches who know the world of football the best so they know what it needs to succeed.
Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner have denied all accusations of fraud, malpractice during their time as members of FIFA and other footballing organisations.