What do North Korea and FIFA have in common? Dishonesty.
When it comes to the legitimization of electoral deceit, undoubtedly, the governing body of world football and the Hermit kingdom are polished practitioners.
FIFA: Foul, Idiotic, Farcical and Amoral
On May 29, regrettably, Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, the eighth and current President of FIFA, will, barring a miracle, be re-elected to power. According to Luis Figo, the former World Player of the Year, “I have seen with my own eyes federation presidents who, after one day comparing FIFA leaders to the devil, then go on stage and compare those same people with Jesus Christ. This is not an election”
In fact, Blatter is so confident of success that he decided against publishing a manifesto. Furthermore, the Swiss football administrator declined to debate opponents and has declined numerous interviews. “I am not campaigning. I am now 40 years in FIFA, and I am 17 years as president of FIFA. This is my manifesto” said the 79 year-old back in March.
Robert Kempe’s new documentary film, titled The Selling Of Football, fully exposes the extensive, nefarious policies at play. The German journalist accuses FIFA of misconduct, corruption and blatant bribery. Accusations are flying, particular questions remain unanswered, like the following, for example, What criteria was involved during the selection of host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups? Considering Russia and Qatar, two politically controversial countries, were awarded these prestigious tournaments, is it wrong to assume that these events were actually sold/auctioned off?
Any true football fan knows that not one objective reason existed for the election of Russia and Qatar. Other obscure elements of persuasion, even coercion, surely played a role. Considering football (please don’t call it soccer) is played by 250 million people in over 200 countries, making it the world’s most popular sport, the unethical behaviour leaves a lot to be desired.
In 2014, according to The Guardian, Nepalese migrant workers building the infrastructure for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup died at a rate of one every two days.
Even more alarmingly, the report did not include other nationalities of workers, primarily Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi migrants. Again, according to The Guardian, if these nationalities were included, the death toll would “almost certainly” be far higher.
A year ago, shortly after DLA Piper published a damming report on the country’s human rights violations, his Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, vowed to right any wrongs. The very real threat to the migrant workers quite literally slaving away does not seem to concern various corporate sponsors. Although fully aware of the needless deaths occurring on an all too regular basis, many continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into FIFA sponsorships.
Again, according to The Guardian newspaper, Playfair Qatar alleges that roughly 60 workers will die for every World Cup match actually played in 2022.
Last Wednesday saw Amnesty International release a sobering report. In it, almost a year after Qatar swore to improve conditions for 1.6 million migrant workers, Amnesty found that only a handful of reforms have actually been implemented.
With 1.6 million migrant labourers and an overall population of just over 2.1 million, the statistics are nothing short of shocking.
According to Playfair Qatar, Qatar’s exploitation of desperate migrant workers is expected to result in over 4,000 deaths by the time the 2022 games kick off. Unsurprisingly, safety regulations on building sites are far from acceptable, to say the very least, according to Amnesty International.
Football, the so called beautiful game, is a fantastic sport to watch, a spectacle like no other. Having watched and played the sport for 23 years and counting, some of my fondest memories involve watching and playing football with my teammates, family and close friends, but the game has a dark side that needs urgent addressing.
Change, real change, that is, cannot and will not be seen until Sepp Blatter is replaced. Sadly, that doesn’t look like happening any time soon.