Bribery and corruption in football

2011 Jun 11 by

The recent FIFA elections have predictably raised a storm about bribery and corruption in the organization and once again brought attention to an organization that has been beset with these allegations for some time now.

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By Sunil Gavaskar


The recent FIFA elections have predictably raised a storm about bribery and corruption in the organization and once again brought attention to an organization that has been beset with these allegations for some time now. It is not just the FIFA but the international Olympic council that comes in for such allegations especially, at the time of allotting the games to a country and invariably the countries that lose out accuse the organization of corruption and bribery. Sepp Blatter has been in the eye of this storm from day one of his presidency yet he keeps getting re-elected as President which shows the influence he has and the clout that he wields.

This is being written from Trinidad the country from where Jack Warner comes. Warner as you may recall is the President of Concacaf and was the Vice President of FIFA till he was suspended along with Mohammad Bin Hammam from Qatar who was contesting for the presidency of the FIFA. Hammam withdrew from the contest and so Blatter was elected unopposed but, Warner after being suspended promised to unleash a tsunami that would sweep away the FIFA.


On his return to Trinidad he went back on the promise saying that he had received legal advice not to release the emails which showed Blatter was a party to some of the mischief going on in the FIFA. The biggest accusers of Blatter and the FIFA are the British newspapers and they are getting increasingly angry that their allegations are not getting the attention from Blatter and FIFA that they feel it deserves. Blatter has accepted to have an ethics committee look into the allegations but is not forthcoming about the whistle blower who has the so called proof of corruption in awarding the 2018 and especially the 2022 Football World Cup to Qatar.

Qatar is accused of using its money muscle to win over votes that swung the verdict in their favour and they deny it. Warner is the one who is being accused of asking the Caribbean nations to give their votes in return for the funds that Qatar would give to develop the game in their countries.

Like in cricket, the Caribbean countries are short of funds to promote and develop the sport and are often reliant on the largesse of other wealthier foot balling nations to help them out. Not being a football person, I am not sure of what exactly has happened but certain happenings prompt one to wonder whether it is only cash incentives that constitute bribery or other incentives too? For example England which was a contender for getting the 2018 World Cup had offered free hospitality for the 2012 London Olympics to the members of the FIFA.


The FIFA members would have got hotels stays and chauffeur driven cars to ferry them to and from the Olympic venues and most crucially the best seats in the house for the premium events like the athletics. This offer was withdrawn the moment England lost out to Russia. Of course the excuse given was that the vote was lost because of bribery and so the hospitality was being withdrawn. But isn’t the offering of the hospitality before the vote itself bribery of sorts and it being withdrawn immediately after England lost the vote pretty much confirms it.

Not only that but the football association also went out of its way to play a friendly against Trinidad before the vote to not only help Trinidad generate some funds but also with the unstated proviso that Trinidad would vote for it and because of the power Jack Warner has over the Caribbean football countries he would get them also to vote for England. In the event England despite having Prince William and the prime minister Dave Cameron in its delegation ended up getting only two votes and thus were out of the bidding process in the first round itself. Rather than blaming concacaf what England should be doing is to examine why the rest of Europe did not offer support to them. Surely there cannot be any bribery where only two votes have been secured.

Unfortunately England has always felt that it deserves special consideration in everything and gets upset when it isn’t forthcoming and the next step is to accuse others of being corrupt. I am not sure since I am not a football person but while there are elections for the other vice-presidents posts in FIFA, England is a permanent vice president. Is there a reason why and would that have been accepted if there was another country which had a permanent vice president's post for them?

England may have invented football and is a truly passionate country about the game but there are others too particularly in South America who loves the sport like a religion but there are not permanent posts for them.

Sepp Blatter has got another four year term and has hinted that he will not contest another term but that is four years away and plenty can happen in that time for him to change his mind. it is extremely tough to give up position of power but as the world changes one has to make way for others whether one likes it or not. Unfortunately England not only does not like it but is not prepared to accept that it is no longer the force it was.