Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Let us assume that voting is on to decide which country would host the next world up. Two candidates emerge as the top contenders in the fray, say Germany and France or Norway and Sweden. Both the parties require only one vote to succeed in their respective bids. The last remaining and deciding vote is of somebody who is overworked and underpaid and could make a million dollar in just five minutes and could guarantee a secure future for himself and his dependents. Tempting isn’t it? The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was established in 1904 with the sole purpose of overseeing this increasingly popular game of the world. By 1959, it became clear that football was more than a game. It became a source of pride for all football lovers across the world. Not only winning the cup but even hosting the event also became a matter of prestige. In all football crazy nations, top performers in the game instantly gain a hero status and become a celebrity for the entire life. Over time, football has become a rage in almost every country. Since July 16, 1950 until today, the Brazilians still feel the pain of their loss in that year’s FIFA World Cup at the hands of Uruguay. Brazilians lost to Uruguay at Maracana Stadium in front of more than 170,000 football fans. From that day, it was clear that the newly-established United Nations would lag behind FIFA in terms of influence and popularity. Undoubtedly, FIFA is one of the most powerful world bodies. Unfortunately, FIFA became notorious for its widespread corruption. Many people are questioning the timings of the investigations into corruption charges. This action should have been taken long ago. Interestingly, the whistleblower and the investigators are from the United States — the country, which was not allowed to enter the competition to host the 1994 world cup, as it did not have a national football association. Is there any foul play involved? Is it because bribes are flowing through US banks or is it just an act of vengeance for losing bid to host the 2022 world cup? Some people say that American ground was not fertile for this kind of corruption but it was clear that politics was inside and outside FIFA. As a matter of fact, it was world cup that even saved many governments around the world. Remember the 1978 tournament in Argentina. In the wake of the recent FIFA issue, many things are emerging such as the 5 million euros that were supposed to have been given to Ireland for its silence over a controversial tie match with France that had resulted in the elimination of the Irish team from the 2010 world tournament. We all know that be it the Irish team or any other team, staying and fighting in the tournament is more important than 5 million euros. FIFA had simply insulted the Irish. To this day, they feel bitter about it. Now, FIFA is surrounded with more problems than it could handle. No one knows about the outcome and the consequences of the ongoing investigations. The most difficult task investigators are faced with is the issue of the 2018 and 2022 world cups scheduled to be held in Russia and Qatar respectively. The biggest dilemma facing both the investigators and the investigated is the fate of the of the 2018 and 2022 world cups. Obviously, it would be difficult to go through the voting procedure all over again. One thing is for sure that this issue will remain the talk of the town for many years to come. However, the questions remain: What prompted this inquiry? Why did nobody act against corruption in FIFA earlier? One thing is for sure that whatever is being reported on this issue is just the tip of the iceberg. FIFA should have been investigated decades ago. It was a moneymaking machine in the hands of corrupt sports officials and it is a disaster if Sepp Blatter did not know about it. Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. FIFA - Too Many Unanswered Questions reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.