There is little surprise to learn that no less than a third of the FIFA executive have had substantial allegations of corruption made against them.  It is alleged by Lord Triesman, The Times and the BBC that Qatar won their 2022 World Cup bid by employing some FIFA fixers to organise the appropriate backhanders, worth many millions. No doubt similar ‘gifts’ and ‘promises’ were made by the Russian oligarchs to ensure Russia won the 2018 bid. So where does that leave countries like Britain, the US and the other developed nations? Squeaky clean? Not a bit of it.

 

 Why is it that the poorer, developing nations and their representatives are more prone to be caught taking back-handers than their more wealthy European and US counterparts? The answer is screamingly obvious. The world’s powerful economies tend to carry out their ‘persuasion’ by nothing so crude as a back room transaction. No, their modus operandi is far more subtle but no less corrupt for all that. Without uttering a word, the handful of powerful nations, commonly known as the G8 club, implicitly let it be known that if they were to win the bid, their transnational corporations will be available for business. If for example the World Cup or the Olympic Games heads to the USA, nothing illegal is explicitly said but everything is implied.

 

When the big events go to the big economic powers FIFA knows it will make a huge profit. TV viewing figures will be sky high (pun intended). Advertising revenues will go through the roof. Trade and financial transactions will flow to those who supported the bid. Favour will be returned. Supporting votes will be rewarded with good will. Lawyers and accountants will be duly dispatched. And not a thread of corruption will be detectable although of course, the whiff of corruption will linger nevertheless. Occasionally things go astray as was the case of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, but generally the wheeling and dealing is cleverly concealed.

 

But when you are poor or poorly connected, or simply not in the ‘club’, things have to be rather more blunt. Give me a knighthood and you’ll get my vote. Fund a local project and you can count on us. Lubricate my personal bank account and our vote is in the bag. These backroom dealings are no more corrupt than those deals made by the big boys, but when they are exposed, the moralising and the calls for sanctions are that much louder.

 

Of course Qatar bribed its way to the finish line. The oil rich Gulf States regularly do business this way when it comes to the big arms deals or the distribution of lucrative oil franchises. Sport is just another international transaction with big bucks to be made and favours to be repaid. Britain’s ruling elite doesn’t like it because they no longer have that sort of spare cash sploshing about and, to these old imperialists, it all seems rather crude. Britain prefers more subtle, institutional forms of corruption, though when the stakes are high enough they are not beyond the occasional bung. Remember the Bae/Saudi armaments scandal which was quickly hushed up in the name of the ‘national interest’.

 

Make no mistake, the more powerful the country, the greater their track record of corruption. And remember that the big imperial powers back up their corruption with brute force – just witness Britain and France scrambling their jets in order to get their share of post Qaddafi Libyan oil. Witness too the US corporate sector fall over themselves to get their hands on Iraqi oil and all the highly lucrative post war infrastructure deals. In point of fact the entire world financial system is rotten to the core and the petty corruption of FIFA, deplorable as it is, is small change compared to the false accounting, insider dealings and tax avoidance that are the daily routines of the world’s financial elites.

 

The only conclusion we can draw is that world sport is no more or less corrupt than any other part of the global economic system. Britain should not attempt to take the moral high ground concerning the stench of corruption emanating from FIFA least the spotlight shifts to some of their own murky dealings. One might suggest that not all is smelling of roses when it comes to Rupert Murdoch’s imminent takeover of Sky Sports, but that one seems to be a done deal despite Murdoch’s News International Corporation being mired in criminal allegations from top to bottom.

 

What should be preoccupying the world’s media; reform of FIFA or root and branch reform of the world’s economic structures? It’s a no brainer!

 

End JPK Copyright 15/5/11

Reply to:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it