Cleaning up the filth in FIFA

You know things are bad when even American academics who are not into football get all worked up about the sport and its governing body FIFA.

Here’s FP’s Drezner (have you read his zombie book yet?):

A few thoughts.  First, what kind of election process is it when the scandal-beseiged incumbent is the only friggin’ candidate?  Bear in mind this is the same Sepp Blatter who declared that FIFA was much more transparent than the IOC — which is kinda like Frederick’s of Hollywood claiming that they’re classier than Victoria’s Secret.

Second, widening the vote to all members won’t necessarily stop corruption — if the International Whaling Commission is any guide, it will simply expand the number of actors who could be bribed.

Third, any anti-corruption campaign depends on Blatter…. If only Blatter had been caught groping a chambermaid — then there would be some real reform!

Like many out there I hoped that Blatter would step down after the corruption scandals that happened on his watch came to light. His hanging on reflects badly on the Great Sport.

I am a little bit surprised though by the uproar generated by the bribery allegations within FIFA. It’s like everyone had no idea what was going on in FIFA and its member FAs. The organization’s member FAs – from Italy to Nigeria to Thailand – routinely get caught in all sorts of corruption allegations (remember Italian match fixing?).

FIFA is only as good as its national member FAs and the regional confederations. I hope that when the cleanup begins it will not end in Zurich but will extend to national FAs and confederations as well.

the world cup

African football is on the ropes. Of the six teams in the tournament in South Africa only Ghana has managed a victory, and even that only through a penalty kick. With Cameroon out (they crashed out today against an arguably weaker Danish team) the best African team in the tournament is Cote d’Ivoire. But the elephants got dealt a bad hand and find themselves having to struggle against Portugal and Brazil if they are to advance. If I had it my way I would have a CAF inquiry at the end of this tournament to determine exactly what it is that continues to perpetuate mediocrity in African football.

The organization of the World Cup tournament by the South Africans has been superb but going by the comments on facebook, among other websites, many are hugely disappointed by the lackluster performance exhibited by the Continent’s representatives at the tournament.

football hooligans and diplomacy

Both Egyptian and Algerian officials could have been classier in handling the mess that has resulted from their rivalry on the field. The two national football teams were competing for the last African slot in next year’s world cup in South Africa. Egypt won the second leg in Cairo, resulting in a deadlock in the group, which then necessitated a playoff in a neutral country. Sudan was chosen and Algeria won.

The fans of either team did not find it in their interest to keep things this simple though. From Khartoum to Cairo to Algiers to Marseilles they expressed their anger by rioting and setting business and boats on fire. FIFA is considering disciplinary action on Egypt because Egyptian fans pelted the Algerian football team’s bus with stones. In Algiers Egyptian businesses were raided by angry mobs. The running battles extended to France, where Algerian and Egyptian immigrants clashed in Marseilles. Egypt has recalled its ambassador to Algeria.

There is pride in making it to the world cup, but there is also sanity and diplomatic decency. This should not have gone this far.