October 30, 2010

FIFA: Credibility crisis continues as former scribe affirms body’s corrupt

By Patrick Omorodion
As world’s football governing body, FIFA tries to get over the cash for vote bribe allegation which hit it a fortnight ago and has temporarily consumed two of its Executive Committee members, Dr Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Tahitian, Reynald Temarii, the body seems not to have heard the last of such stench of sleaze.

The latest which has really portrayed FIFA as a corrupt organisation is coming not from an outsider like the Sunday Times of London did, but from someone who was an insider and should know because he stated so to undercover reporters.

According to Agency reports, Michel Zen-Ruffinen, 51, and a former Secretary General of FIFA  alleged he could help bidding countries win if given £210,000 by telling them what it takes to win the backing of some of the members of the FIFA Executive Committee who will vote on the issue in Zurich on December 2, 2010.

The first allegation that Dr Adamu and Temarii asked to be paid $800,000 and $2.5 million respectively threw FIFA off balance and caused  its  embarrassed president, Sepp Blatter to say that there are devils in the society and they have found their way into football.

Blatter and Zen-Ruffinen

Zen-Ruffinen allegedly told the Sunday Times that members of the Executive Committee could not only be influenced to sell their vote for money but exchange for ladies even as he described one of them as “the biggest gangster you will find on earth”.

Pitch the statement “the biggest gangster you will find on earth” side by side Blatter’s scathing remarks that “there are devils in our society and these devils are found in football”, then it will dawn on the average football lover that FIFA is really a house of corruption.

Zen-Ruffinen’s claim that there is a deal between some bidding countries which tends to push the England bid to the back burner has caused jitters for England, making its media to continue to expose FIFA to the whole world and cause it to allow a level playing field.

Even though one of the Executive Committee members, Chuck Blazer of the United States representing the CONCACAF region said that the Sunday Times expose will not affect England’s chances negatively on December 2, 33 days from today, the British are already jittery and distraught about the whole bidding process.

Concerning the investigation of Dr Adamu and Temarii, the former FIFA scribe alluded to the fact that nothing positive may come out of the probe as feared by some concerned football lovers who believe FIFA might want to cover up for their disgraced members.

Zen-Ruffinen was quoted to have spoken on a Swiss television to have said that FIFA should appoint external independent investigators to look at corruption allegations as was done by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) when it was embroiled in similar vote for cash scandal some years ago.

“The problem [in credibility] stems from the fact that when it comes to taking decisions to eradicate corruption, these decisions are delegated to an internal organ – a body also part of FIFA,” Zen-Ruffinen said.

He added that “If one wants to eliminate corruption from FIFA, as the International Olympic Committee succeeded in doing when there was a problem surrounding the organisation of the Olympic Games, the mandate has to be given to an outside body.”

For the 2018 World Cup, England is bidding against the joint bids of Netherlands-Belgium and Portugal-Spain as well as Russia while the 2022 bid is a direct fight among Australia, Japan, Qatar, South Korea and the United States.

With Adamu and Temarii temporarily in the cooler and no likelihood of making it back to the 24 member club, only 22 members may decide the fate of these countries as it is unlikely their replacements could be got before December 2, 2010.

Those who will vote according to their conscience or under the influence of cash or lady gift as Zen-Ruffinen said, are FIFA president, Blatter (Switzerland), from UEFA, Franz Beckenbauer (Germany), Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium), Senes Erzik (Turkey), Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus), Angel Maria Villar Llona (Spain), Vitaly Mutko (Russia), Michel Platini (France) and Geoff Thompson (England).

Africa will have its president, Issa Hayatou (Cameroon), Hany Abo Rida (Egypt) and Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast), the man Dr Adamu replaced as WAFU president in a fierce election battle. From Asia are Mohamed Bin Hammam (Qatar), Worawi Makudi (Thailand), Chung Mong-joon (South Korea) and Junji Ogura (Japan).

The Concacaf (North and central America) zone will have Chuck Blazer (US), Rafael Salguero (Guatemala), Jack Warner (Trinidad & Tobago) while Conmebol (South America) have Julio Grondona (Argentina), Nicolas Leoz (Paraguay) and Brazil’s Ricardo Terra Teixeira as their representatives.