For soccerheads, FIFA needs to come clean on this one

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The prosecutors contend the bribery scheme may have been played out over the years. It feels that even as FIFA’s executive committee debated on the 2010 hosts, South Africa agreed to pay Jack Warner and others $10 million in exchange for their votes. Warner did vote for South Africa, but South Africa was unable to pay over the subsequent months and even years. So, instead of South Africa directly paying Warner, FIFA deducted that amount ($10 million) from what it would otherwise have paid South Africa for the World Cup.

Valcke is no stranger to financial controversy. He first joined FIFA in 2003 and became its marketing director. However, he was fired in December 2006 after a New York judge ruled that he and others had lied during negotiations with MasterCard and Visa over a sponsorship deal. FIFA had denounced that behaviour, but in May 2007, a federal appeals court threw out the ruling. Soon after, within a month or so FIFA and MasterCard were said to have come to a settlement. And lo, behold, Blatter brought back Valcke as the secretary general, FIFA’s No. 2 man.

Adding another twist to the tale, is that Julio Grondona, chairman of the finance committee, authorised the payment, according to another FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer. By the way, Grondona died last year.

Finally, Blatter may be gone, or at least is going, it cannot be denied that fraction-ridden Europe never put up a strong candidate against Blatter or his predecessor for the last two decades, just as they had failed to do so against his predecessor, Joao Havelange.

With Blatter agreeing to go, will Europe, with its lucrative market and following, be able to take leadership of the sport and yet cater to the needs of the not-so-good-at-soccer countries.

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Where does Blatter get his clout from?

Sepp-BlatterAfrica has 54 votes and Asia has 46 and between them that figure comes close to 48% of the total votes (209). Sepp Blatter commanded most of those two blocks from Africa and Asia.

One of the biggest reasons for Blatter’s continued hold over FIFA was his policy of ‘one-country, one-vote’ and equal funding for all.

As FIFA doles out almost equal amount of funding – under the ‘Goal’ project and ‘Financial Assistance Programme’ (FAP) to all member nations, smaller nations benefit more with the finances they get to build facilities. Tiny countries which otherwise may not have money for stadiums and pitches and coaches, use this funding. Even countries like India benefit from the US $1.2 million (about Rs 8 crores) it gets from the profits of the last period 2011-2014. That amount becomes huge for tiny islands nations in Oceania, Caribbean and even money-hit African countries.

In that sense, the gratitude of these nations to FIFA is understandable, for otherwise, they would have nothing from a sport that is dominated by Europe and South America.

Each of the members of FIFA from five-time World Cup champions, Brazil to a superpower US to the tiny Cayman Islands, which is all of 102 square kilometres in area, has the same – one vote!

Asia’s vote went to Blatter despite Blatter’s rival, Prince Ali, the Jordanian prince, being an Asian. Curiously, the last time somebody stood up to Blatter was in 2011 and it was Qatar’s Bin Hammam, who withdrew and was then suspended and banned.

More than three-fourths of CONCACAF (Caribbean, Central and North America) votes, barring the likes of US and Canada, went to Blatter.

Except New Zealand, all others in Oceania (11 votes) went with the then FIFA chief.

South America, which has the cream of world football in Brazil and Argentina have just 10 votes and they usually go with Blatter.

Amidst all this, Prince Ali getting 73 votes was indeed a surprise. For the contest to be won in the first the winning candidate needs to get two-thirds, which would have meant 139-140 votes. But with valid votes being only 206, and Prince Ali getting 73, there would have been a second round, where a simply majority would be enough for Blatter. So Prince Ali withdrew.


V KRISHNASWAMY

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editor@tehelka.com

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