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FIFA not new to scandals

– Nigeria as Case Study

By Ikeddy Isiguzo
FIFA is steeped in scandals. The recent allegation against its Executive Committee members Dr. Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii is a tip of the mess.

Allegations of corruption against FIFA are not new. One of the major ones was against Sepp Blatter in 1998 during his campaign for the FIFA presidency.

He was, along with his godfather, the departing FIFA President Joao Havelange, accused of bribing delegates to the FIFA Congress to vote for Blatter who wriggled out of the morass with claims that the money was federations to develop the game.

The absolute secrecy with which FIFA operates, its dedication to exclusion of views from outsiders – non-members of the FIFA family and its consistent adoption of its various committees, often without regard for their records at home, form the fulcrum of scams that surround FIFA.

FIFA is a global conglomerate with interests spanning spheres football cannot contain. Its members are businessmen at the eclipse of careers that have cruised various routes.

With the high visibility international football provides for FIFA executives, their access to top government officials (our Vice President was running after a FIFA Vice President last year), and the exposure to businesses around football, scams, scandals, stings and swindles have become one with FIFA.

Bids to host big FIFA events have assumed previously imagined profiles. FIFA officials have elastic importance and are known to be available to take opportunities, some of which they create.

FIFA would have been stunned by the latest allegations against Adamu and Temarii. FIFA’s discomfort could be more from the form and format of the allegations. FIFA is used to allegations being made “without proof”, the point it uses to state that its accusers were not serious.

Nigeria has been a good example. For years, various interests, for different reasons, drew FIFA’s attention to allegations of swirling scandals around Nigerian football, including indications that money FIFA gave for development of the game was spent elsewhere.

FIFA ignored us. FIFA’s interest in Nigeria was on the millions of Naira spent on regularly on trains of FIFA delegations that make endless inspection visits to Nigeria when the hosting of one competition or the other catches the imagination of Nigerians who have their reasons for these wastes.

Cities that had no facilities produced then in weeks and were applauded as miracle performers. The facilities barely manage to last the duration of the competition.

Last year, facilities in some of the centres that hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup were in such deplorable states that teams complained loudly. FIFA ignored them and imposed no sanctions on its officials that approved them. The playing turf in Enugu floated during a game which had to be stopped and the water sponged with any available equipment.

This was in the full glare of FIFA executives. The game continued as if what happened was the newest appendage to FIFA games.

Nothing was heard again about this embarrassment.

I have reproduced FIFA’s statement on the latest scandal to prove FIFA knows about them and does nothing and how it is holding on to indecision as decision.

“Ethics Committee considered that a provisional suspension was required while the investigation continues, taking into account the gravity of the case and the likelihood that a breach of the FIFA Statutes, the FIFA Code of Ethics and the FIFA Disciplinary Code has been committed.

“Furthermore, the Ethics Committee examined the cases of four officials – Slim Aloulou, Amadou Diakite, Ahongalu Fusimalohi and Ismael Bhamjee – also in relation to an alleged breach of the FIFA Statutes, the FIFA Code of Ethics and the FIFA Disciplinary Code linked to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups. The committee also decided to suspend these four officials provisionally from taking part in any football-related activity.

“FIFA opened proceedings against the two Executive Committee members on 18 October 2010 and requested the Ethics Committee to conduct an independent, in-depth investigation into the matter. The Ethics Committee will meet again in mid-November 2010 in order to take a final decision on the matter after gathering more information and evidence on the six cases.

“The decision to provisionally suspend these officials is fully justified and should not be put in question. The evidence that has been presented to us today has led us to take this provisional measure, as we considered that the conditions were definitely met to take this decision and we deem that it is crucial to protect the integrity of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process. We are determined to have zero tolerance for any breach of the Code of Ethics,” said the chairman of the Ethics Committee, Claudio Sulser.

“Finally, and again at the request of FIFA, the Ethics Committee decided to open an investigation into alleged agreements between member associations and their Bid Committees in relation to the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process, something which would also be a violation of the Bid Registration document and the Code of Ethics. A decision on this case will also be taken by the Ethics Committee at its meeting in mid_November, following a thorough investigation.”

FIFA says there are SIX cases, not TWO; widening the investigations could throw up more mud. FIFA has suspended the officials, suspended global interests in the scandals, hoping media interests in the affair would be suspended too.

When the votes are taken by December 2, those who win would bear the slur of these scandals. FIFA realises the implications of the scandals in de_branding FIFA competitions. However, it can hardly do anything  because scandals have become part of the FIFA brand.

Its Code of Ethics is outdated. It  never foresaw a day FIFA would be for sale to all bidders. FIFA’s pain is not from the allegations, but the fact that they are public and there seems to be proof!
Something Worrying About India

SCANDALS in FIFA completely overtook the return of Team Nigeria from the Commonwealth Games in India .  Its medals collection (cannot state them again until all the drug tests are out) remain second to those of Victoria , Canada in 1994.

Drug abuses became an issue with the three failed drug tests for team members. There have been defences, all manners of them, including  ingesting the drugs through other legally approved substances or medications.

Nigerians must get serious about the sophistications sports have assumed. These  extensions of sports have grown over the years. There are too many preparations for Games that we ignore. One of the most important aspects is medical.

On the international stage, competitors are considered professionals who get advice for their medications, food supplements and anything else that could lead to failed drug tests. These are supposed to be documented and presented when there are cases.

We seem to ignore these practices. In addition, we should have domestic sanctions for athletes who fail drug tests.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.