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.

gor-afc match turns tragic

This weekend’s much fabled rivalry football match between Gor Mahia, aka K’Ogelo, and AFC Leopards turned tragic when un-ticketed fans tried to force their way into the stadium – leading to 7 confirmed deaths.

For more on this see the Nation. The Standard also reports that former Harambee Stars goalie Ottoman was “beaten senseless” when he tried to persuade club officials to stop the match.

Gor Mahia won the match 1-0 thanks to an 87th minute penalty.

Witnesses have blamed the incidence on a lack of organization, including the absence of police to control crowds.

east africa the only region not in Ghana

As the Africa Cup of Nations tournament goes on in Ghana, one region of the world is conspicuously missing. The Eastern Africa region, with its history of poor performance is football, is a perennial absentee at this continental gala. All the other regions, North, South and especially West Africa are represented by various teams.

Perhaps it is time that the FAs of Eastern African countries – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somali, Ethiopia, Burundi and Rwanda – got together to find a solution to the problem of underperformance by their teams. And money is not the issue. Uganda and Kenya have bigger economies than Benin but Benin managed to make it to the tournament. Even unstable Ivory Coast is in the tournament, and shining with its world famous stars.

The problem is not just in the national teams. This region’s leagues are also the weakest on the continent. Enyimba, Asante Kotoko, Obwasi Goal fields, Esperance, Zamalek, Pirates are all famous clubs from all the other regions who have won the continental club championship or featured prominently. None of these clubs is from Eastern Africa.

So as Eastern Africans sit back and enjoy the talents of the Drogbas and Essiens of the continent, they should also ask themselves why it is that their teams remain such underachievers when it comes to continental football.

the africa cup of nations, something to celebrate

The 2008 Africa Cup of Nations got off to a sizzling start with wins for all the tournament favorites that have played so far. Despite an embarrassing incident right before the Mali – Benin game, in which the floodlights went off, most of the organisation of the tournament has been done well.

Ghana deserves credit for having been able to provide stadia and other facilities necessary for the organisation of a tournament of this magnitude. The tournament also provides a brief period for the continent to forget about wars and droughts and famines and Aids and instead concentrate on the positive aspects of the continent that never make it to the front pages or headlines.

We thank the CAF and GFA for organising this wonderful tournament that gives Africans a chance to see their sons who play in Europe and elsewhere display their talents on African soil.