The World Corruption Cup

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    The World Corruption Cup

    July 1, 2014The worlds attention is focused on the Football World Cup tournament being played

    out in Brazil. Once in every four years, the medias attention worldwide is ritually drawn

    to this international tournament which decides the world champions for the sport. This

    time however, Uruguays Luis

    Chewy Suarezs bite into Italian Giorgio Chiellini shoulder has distracted the public!

    Chewy has done this twice before and also used his hands to save a goal in the 2010

    World Cup against Ghana and was sin binned! Chewy has been suspended from

    football participation for four months and a nine-match international ban was imposed

    by FIFA.

    The worlds many diverse cultures have over time devised various ways to getting an

    object, oval or otherwise, by one means or another, to some sort of goal or target over

    the opposition of another team. But one specific version, for which rules were first laid

    out in England in the 19th century, seems to have won the popularity battle. Fairly

    simple rules and no sophisticated equipment being required have allowed the game to

    flourish among the rich and flamboyant, poor villagers and slum dwellers worldwide.

    Just two or four markers to mark the goals, something kickable which could pass for a

    ball and some indications of perimeters of play has allowed football to be played on

    streets, on playgrounds, on dried-up rice or wheat fields, in coconut plantations in

    between the coconut trees, on the beaches, on dried-up stream beds and on any other

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    space which is available to enthusiasts.

    FIFAInternational soccer is managed by an International Federation, a nongovernmental

    organisation based in Switzerland. Its acronym is FIFA, for Federation Internationale

    de Football Association. FIFA was founded in 1904 in Paris, as a rule making

    committee, to ensure that things like punching ones opponent, or handing the ball,

    would not be accepted as a legitimate part of the game. Over time FIFA has evolved

    into one of the successful and also at the same time disreputable organisations in the

    history of sport. FIFA has 209 nations as members through their national federations.

    The UNO only has 193!In 2006 FFIFA claimed that 300 million people played soccer. But playing is only one

    aspect, millions of people watch the game, argue over performance and results and

    also spend money for wages and bets. The English Premier league is broadcast on

    radio and television to over 212 territories reaching an estimated 643 million homes.

    Half of all mankind on this planet is expected to watch the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

    This makes the sports dominance of the world unique. This is all the remarkable, given

    that of the four countries larger than Brazil, only one, the USA, qualified to be present

    at the World Cup in 2014. China made in 2002 but failed to win any games or score

    any goals!

    Corruption scandals

    FIFA has been plagued by corruption scandals for some time. Under the leadership of

    the current head Sepp Blatter and his predecessor Joao Havelange, FIFA has been

    accused of financial mismanagement, taking bribes and projecting a level of sexism

    and homophobia that seems to come from another century. FIFAs corruption has been

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    an open secret for so many years that when new allegations are made, hardly any

    outrage is provoked. The attitude seems to be just more of the same.

    For example, FIFA is supposed to police match fixing, but a recent

    New York Times investigation revealed that only six people of FIFAs total staff of 350

    are working on actually investigating allegations of match fixing. It is also supposed to

    monitor corruption in football, but it clearly falls short in its responsibility in this regard.

    There have been allegations that bribes secured the 2022 World Cup for the Emirate

    of Qatar in 2010. How did one of the worlds least suitable football venues succeed in

    winning the sports greatest tournament? Revelations published by the Sunday Times

    on 1 June, this year of e-mails detailing lavish campaigning by Mohamed bin

    Hammam, a disgraced former FIFA Vice-President from Qatar, shocked, but did not

    surprise football fans. FIFA is now under pressure to re-run the bidding process.

    Analysts expect FIFAs President, the wily Blatter, to resist, although he seems to be

    making noises to the effect that a rerun would be a possibility.

    Blatter has declared that he intends to recontest FIFAs Presidency for another four-

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    year term, his fifth consecutive term. Commentators have stated that even Sepp

    Blatter with all his long-standing contacts in world football and back-room negotiating

    and political skills will be pushed to survive the barrage of charges of corruption facing

    his time in office as FIFA President.

    Several members of FIFA Executive Committee, the highest decision-making body,

    have been forced out of office in recent years, due to allegations of corruption. Two for

    soliciting bribes from undercover reporters before the 2010 World Cup was awarded to

    South Africa. Two more, including the Qatari, Hammam, were accused of offering

    bribes to football officials from Caribbean countries, to vote for him, when he declared

    an interest to replace Blatter as President of FIFA. Hammam was later banned from

    football administration for life.

    After Blatter fought off Hammams challenge and was re-elected President of FIFA, he

    denied that FIFA was in crisis and promised reform.e He appointed an independent

    governance committee by a respected Swiss Jurist Mark Pieth, to advise FIFA on

    reforms to cleanse it of corruption charges. Though Blatter did not accept all the

    proposals of the Pieth Committee, he agreed to an Ethics Committee to be chaired by

    Pieth and the appointment of an American lawyer, Michael Garcia to inquire into

    allegations of vote rigging an bribery, in FIFA processes including allegations on the

    choice of Russia to host footballs World Cup in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

    Russia and Qatar

    The selection of Russia for the 2018 World Cup and Qatar for the 2022 World Cup has

    been widely criticised. Reports have alleged that some FIFA inside sources have

    stated that Russian bribes, cash and gifts, given to FIFA Executive Committee

    members were enough to secure the 2018 location for Russia, weeks before the

    formal selection and announcement was made.

    Blatter was widely criticised for speaking to FIFAs Executive Committee on the evils

    of media shortly before they voted for the location of the 2018 tournament. This was a

    reference to exposes in the London Sunday Times and BBCs Panorama program.

    However, two FIFA Executive Committee members were banned from all football-

    related activity in November 2010 for allegedly offering to sell their votes to undercovernewspaper reporters.

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    There are allegations that Qatar beat the United States for the

    2022 finals by paying bribes to delegates for Cameroon and Cote dIvore amounting to

    $ 1.5 million. Blatter has not ruled out reopening the 2022 vote if corruption could be

    proved.

    On Sepp Blatters re-election to FIFAs top position of President in 2011, after aninvestigation by FIFA, Bin Hammam and Warner were suspended from all FIFA

    activities. Warner reacted to his suspension by questioning Blatters conduct and

    stating that FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke, had told him via e-mail that Qatar

    had bought the 2002 World Cup finals. Valcke subsequently tried to explain that what

    he had meant was not bribery per se, but that Qatar has used its financial muscle to

    lobby for support.

    Bin Hammam also wrote to FIFA complaining about the unfair treatment by the FIFA

    Ethics Committee and the FIFA administration in suspending him. There are furtherallegations that the Vice President of the Bahamas Football Association was given $

    40,000 in cash and the President of the Surinamese Football Association alleged that

    he was given $ 40,000 for development projects as an incentive to vote for Bin

    Hammam against Blatter.

    Allegations of match fixing

    In fact, while the current World Cup competition is being played out in Brazil,

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    allegations of match fixing have emerged, against the controlling body of Ghanas

    football, the Ghana Football Association. The allegation is that the President of that

    Association had agreed to Ghanas national team, presently playing in Brazil, to play in

    friendly matches after the World Cup is over, which others were willing to fix the result.

    A syndicate which would control the bets placed on these matches is alleged to be the

    prime mover of the scam. An undercover investigation by the British TV station

    Channel 4 and the newspaper the Daily Telegraph has resulted in these allegations

    surfacing. The undercover investigation identified two people one a licensed agent of

    FIFA and the other a Ghana football club official. The allegations do not touch the

    Ghanas national teams World Cup matches. The President of the Ghana Football

    Association has denied the allegations and has requested the police to investigate the

    allegations.

    America

    The future of world football, analysts feel, lies in the hands of three nations, which are

    not presently big players of the game. One is the USA; though present at Brazil, Team

    USA is not big league, but football is certainly a force to be reckoned with internally in

    the USA. Increasingly young Americans, both men and women, are playing football or

    soccer as it is called, in order that it will not be confused with American football. In fact

    the American womens national team is rated higher internationally than the mens

    national team.

    Although it will take a long time for soccer in the US to challenge the predominant role

    of American football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey, in American society, soccer

    is on a growth trend. Local teams that once had to play in American football stadiums

    today have dedicated soccer grounds. Average attendance at soccer matches is

    increasing. The controlling body Major League Soccer (MLS) has around 21

    member clubs.

    Americas demographic trends work in favour of soccer. The increasing Hispanic

    segment of the population loves the game. At present they only make 16.9% of the

    population, but between the years 2000 and 2010 the number of Hispanics in the USA

    grew by 43%. The current US national team is ranked 14th in the world. The USA vs.Portugal match in Brazil was watched by 24.7 million. FIFA says that more tickets were

    allocated for the 2014 finals to the US than any other country except the host Brazil.

    Americans have bought more tickets than the next three highest ticket buying

    countries-Argentina, Germany and England. The USA is clearly headed for footballs

    big league, in the future.

    India

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    The second nation which is destined to play a big role in international football in the

    future is India. True, the dominance of cricket is currently overwhelming. Football

    cannot, just yet, match crickets role in the Bollywood film Lagaan, in which a team of

    Indian villagers take on and defeat a team of British Raj civil servants in a cricket

    match to win relief from oppressive taxes imposed by the colonial government! But

    footballs history in India goes back a long time.

    In 1911 a local club in Calcutta, Mohun Bagan, beat a team from the British Armys

    East Yorkshire Regiment in the final of the All India tournament. This was an iconic

    moment of Indias campaign to rid itself of British imperialism. The controlling body in

    India the All India Football Federation was founded in 1937. The Indian national

    team won the Asian Games gold medal for football in 1951 and 1962. In the 1956

    Olympic Games the Indian team just missed the Bronze medal, by coming fourth; the

    best-ever finish by an Asian country.

    Though cricket and tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL) dominate Indian

    sport, there is a generational shift taking place in India, which seems to favour football.

    In fact an IPL type clone for football in India is being floated called the Indian Super

    League (ISL). Its promoters claim that cricket was the game of the fathers; football is

    the game of the sons. In fact the IPL was set up for cricket due to worries that five-day

    Cricket Test matches were turning off young people, who are in an instant noodle and

    instant gratification mode.

    The ISL is supported by the huge Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries and IMG,

    the global sports management firm. The IPL will kick off in September this year and

    has attracted investors like present crickets IPL investor, owner of the Kolkata Knight

    Riders multimillionaire actor Shah Rukh Khan. Indias cricketing icon Sachin

    Tendulkar has also taken a stake in one of the ISL football teams. A great deal has to

    be done for football infrastructure in India. It is a positive sign that FIFA has chosen

    India as the location for the 2017 under 17 World Cup tournament. As host, the Indian

    team will participate.

    The All India Football Federation has inaugurated four football academies to develop

    young talent in various parts of the country. In Indias case, however, one unfortunateanalogy India shares with FIFA and football is the allegations of corruption in Indian

    Cricket and the IPL. Allegations of match fixing are rampant in the media, with the

    Indian Police and the Judiciary holding investigations.

    The Board of Control of Cricket in India, one of the most powerful national cricket

    associations, is mired in controversy, with politicians and cricket bureaucrats often

    hauled up before the Indian Supreme Court. In fact the Supreme Court recently

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    removed the IPL management team and asked respected former Indian international

    cricketer Sunil Gavaskar to run the 2014 tournament! So whether Indias emergence

    as a football power house will have any positive effect on FIFAs corruption is, to say

    the least, questionable!

    China

    China is the third potential country which will have an effect on international football in

    the future. The Middle Kingdom, with its 3,000-year history, claims to have invented

    football. In fact there existed a somewhat formalised way of kicking a ball around the

    fields of the Empire around 2,000 years ago. But although Mao Zedong was the goal

    keeper in his school football team, under the Communist Party of China, society was

    isolated from the international ramifications of the sport.

    Even after the Chinese Spring of Deng Xiaoping, also a football fan, who famously

    d...

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