Dictators fear laughter over guns. Unlike dissent, which can be eradicated by suppression, laughter saps the power of tyrants by removing their legitimacy and deeming them no longer figures of authority. As President of FIFA Sepp Blatter has become ridiculous, however nobody should be laughing at FIFA’s plight. Because he seems to be impossible to remove.
Blatter may be many things. With a cold-blooded reptilian quality that is hard to ignore, the man seems to permanently exude a film of sycophantic greed so unxious it has begun to resemble oil, the revenue of which recently FIFA seems so desperate to pursue. He is yet to be seen in public with a forked tail on full display, but rumours in the media about his true nature are rife. That being said, when it comes to FIFA’s recent record of exposés, perhaps nobody should hold their breath. Of all the four letter words mentioned in relation to FIFA, fact is not the first to spring to mind.
Residing over an organisation which outwardly seems so morally debauched it would make Machiavelli himself think that perhaps this pursuit of power and self-gratification lark has got out of hand, Blatter undoubtedly has a role to play in FIFA’s ethical demise as head of the organisation.
FIFA’s problems ought to rest solely on Swiss shoulders. As president of the international body, he is their ultimate representative. However, Blatter’s gait appears much too crooked and skewed for FIFA’s issues to remain there securely. It seems Blatter has not been forced to resign because the problems surrounding football’s international governing body are much more pervasive. FIFA’s biggest problem is its lack of transparency, which represents of a wider lack of concern for the reputation of football’s governing body. It is doubtful that unseating Blatter would return FIFA to a pre-lapsarian state. It has slipped too far.
“We have an exemplary organisation on ethics,” Blatter almost laughably maintains. Yet assertions like this one seem not to sit well with the commonly held definition of ethical practice. Honesty is rarely an ideal thought of in conjunction with FIFA. Even more worryingly, internal disputes within FIFA’s ethics committee serve only to aggravate growing concerns that any semblance of truth is being suppressed by FIFA itself.
Ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert’s recent investigation outwardly acquitted Russia and Qatar of allegations of corruption during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. It also accused the English contingent of improper behaviour during their attempts to host the 2018 World Cup. Less than four hours after the report was published Michael Garcia, a man who spent 2 years compiling his own report into the issue claimed that the report contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations”.
FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb and executive committee member Sunil Gulati’s demands for both Garcia and Eckert’s review to be made public “as soon as possible” to “ensure complete transparency” in the face of the disagreement within the Investigatory and Adjudicatory Chambers of the Ethics Committee are yet to be met. Their attempts are being blocked by Eckert himself who has taken the stand that he simply “will not do it”.
It appears neither reports are any closer to being published and as a result the truth is once more proving to be an allusive concept to prove for FIFA. If FIFA cannot hold itself to account, it is un-clear who can.
Greg Dyke, chairman of the FA, recently branded Eckert’s report “a joke” that “could not be taken seriously.” Commenting on the state of FIFA as a whole, he said “I don’t think FIFA is a straight organisation and hasn’t been for many years.”Only time will tell how much further FIFA could sink.
FIFA ’s image has become such a travesty that the reaction it provokes is unlikely to leave anybody laughing. Instead, people are more inclined to hold their head in their hands and weep.