Date: 13th April 2016
A personal view by Donald C Stewart.
With the news that the office of UEFA have been raided thanks to some form of documentation that has come from Panama, you would be forgiven for thinking that John Le Carre has taken over the stewardship of the once beautiful game. That the raid has to do with the guy who was elected to drag FIFA from its quagmire gives us nothing but more palpitations.
Indeed, you would also be forgiven, though I doubt if football fans are going to be in a forgiving mood after all this, for thinking that corruption has been embedded in the game for so long we may have to rip it up and start again.
Along with indictments filed against the former top brass at FIFA, an astonishing admission that South Africa got the World Cup because they “offered a more attractive bribe” than their rivals and the bitter aftertaste that has come from Sepp Blatter’s stewardship it’s not interesting times for the game; it’s catastrophic.
I remember the days when we turned up at games, berated the players, threw insults at the manager and wondered what would happen at OUR club next. Not one of us thought about who owned the club or even knew who the directors actually were. All we were interested in was product; that one on the park. Our bottom line was the number of points accrued by May each year and whether that was a successful year or not for our local team.
Now we know who the directors are and in some cases, we know where they live… of course it is right and proper that we know who own and run our community assets as the knowledge has given us insight into the degree of corruption existing in football as well as identify some unsung heroes. By being aware of who does what we can assess, rightly or wrongly, the responsibilities that should be blamed or placed on the shoulders of the directors and administrators of our game. One of the reasons why we have become aware of these people is the way in which football has gone from being a game, apparently, to being a business.
In that transformation, money has flooded into the game and we are now dealing with global brands and massive budgets. Are we? From the information at the very top it would appear that money has flowed into a few trouser pockets and we are dealing with global corruption; on a truly global scale. The long lost idea of there being good guys and bad guys, has truly gone with both now mixing in the boxes and prawn sandwich pavilions of the elite clubs.
Supporters, more now than ever, face the loss of their game unless they can find a common cause with which to unite and make one voice. It may be one with many accents but the time has never been better for individual fans to bond together to make that voice heard. What is appalling though is the thought that to achieve sanity once again in our game we might have to trust to the most appealing set of cowboys – we just need to make sure that they are the ones with the white Stetsons…
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