Enough words, it is time for collective action against FIFA

Date: 30th May 2015

Rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted corruption’.

FOR decades FIFA have been suspected of any number of illegal dealings in order to get their way, writes Ben Ramage. That is why the sight of so many of their executives being arrested was nowhere near as surprising as it should have been.

It was nevertheless a very welcome sight. FIFA has been operating with no external oversight, no accountability and less transparency for years. Blatter has overseen 17 years of corruption unchecked, and was voted for a fifth term against widespread warning from European members, UEFA, even Prime Minister David Cameron.

And so, despite seven FIFA officials being arrested and a separate Swiss criminal investigation into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Blatter will keep the power over world football. He will continue with his decision to play the World Cup in Russia and Qatar, despite both being highly questionable venues on moral and social grounds.

Why does Blatter refuse to give up this position? Wealth is certainly the main culprit. In the lead up to the 2014 World Cup, FIFA made $5.7 billion in revenue. Because of its organisational structure, FIFA does not pay tax. And because it has no external overseer, it does not have to disclose how this money was dispersed. In the 21st Century, this level of unaccounted wealth generated through our game by our fans is absolutely shocking.

It is time for action against FIFA. Governments and organisations are scared of the giant for fear of being left out of the party.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan says one of the options is to boycott future World Cups. In previous years, this would not have been such an issue for Tartan Army fans, given we have not been there anyway.

But with qualification actually looking possible for the first time in 20 years thanks to Gordon Strachan, this would be an absolute dagger in the heart for Scotland fans desperate to see their country compete for footballs biggest trophy once more.

Boycotting would only work if it was coordinated by enough countries to make the proceeding tournament meaningless. If the last three World Cup champions, Germany, Spain and Italy all boycotted the tournament as well, this would give the boycott a lot more clout.

And the fact they are all European countries gives this a real chance of happening. The vast majority of European members of FIFA voted for Prince Ali, Blatter’s only opposing member of the recent election.

UEFA must take a stand and while Platini has spoken out against Blatter he has stopped short of threatening FIFA with any meaningful action. If he threatened to withdraw all European nations from the 2018 World Cup in Russia should Blatter not resign, then we might see the Swiss administrator sweat.

Another option is to leave FIFA altogether and form a breakaway organisation. The more complicated option for sure, but even the threat of a rival organisation would be a huge threat to Blatter, and should not be overlooked as we seek to change the corrupt system.

David Gill must be commended for his decision to reject a place on FIFA’s executive committee when Blatter was re-elected, the more moral stands against his re-election the better.

Sponsors must take a similarly brave stand against the corrupt organisation. VISA have been the most vociferous in their condemnation of FIFA, but that must be followed with action.

Sponsors are the most important weapon against Blatter, because they represent so much wealth his key language. Coca-Cola and Adidas have long been associated with FIFA, and reportedly paid $30million a year for the privilege of being a ‘Global Partner’ in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup.

They, too, must take a stand or risk losing brand face by aligning alongside corruption without question. We must all take a stand against FIFA, for too long words have been spoken against FIFA with no action taken.

The time for action, for everyone involved, is now. Collective action can bring down the man exploiting and destroying football.

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