January 27, 2022

MAFIFA: Is FIFA a victim or culprit?

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collister_fahie2By Collister M. Fahie From Caribbean News Now

The definition of the word victim is as follows: a person or entity that is affected adversely by others through unlawful or illegal actions.

The definition of a culprit is as follows: a person or entity that adversely affects others through unlawful or illegal activities.

Clearly FIFA falls into both categories. For that reason, many refer to it as the MAFIFA. While FIFA has been and is a victim in many instances, the case can be made that it is also a culprit that has decimated lives. The fallout continues to date.

FIFA as an oligarchy has always condoned unlawful and illegal activity through direct action as well as inaction. The ISL scandal and the FIFA World Cup 2018 and 2022 scandal, for example, show how FIFA manipulated and then turned a blind eye to wanton corruption and bribery.

The argument can be made that these activities were carried out by individuals with self-serving motives who had a penchant for power and greed. How else could Joseph Blatter remain as head of FIFA for so many years unless he was supported by these same corrupt individuals?

Blatter governed FIFA for almost four decades (general secretary under Joao Havelange and then as president), all the while expounding that “FIFA is not corrupt.” Many of Blatter’s Executive Committee members and their colleagues pillaged FIFA of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Television deals were undervalued and bribes were requested and received from all parties hoping to be awarded the FIFA World Cup on many occasions. Almost every FIFA Executive member under Blatter has been sanctioned, suspended and/or fined for some ethical violation or another.

This suggests that FIFA has been victimized by insiders who were all privy to the corruption and saw it as business as usual.

However, if the recent statement released by Transparency International (TI) is to be considered, then “FIFA, we have a problem”.

TI’s Global Corruption Report: Sport says while players risk public ridicule and contempt for such behavior, there is the risk of administrators pocketing their money if they do not resort to such measures because as is sometimes the case in Africa, “money meant for looking after the team – players’ allowances and bonuses – is pocketed by the administrators in the football associations.”

TI continues later in its report, “Football in Africa suffers under these elected officials because they have an eye on other things – such as politics, or simply the amassing of wealth. As a result, there is a chronic lack of professionalism in the management of the game.” See more at: http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/global_corruption_report_sport

If Africa, or rather its confederation CAF, is perceived as corrupt with as much documented evidence as shown by TI, then why did FIFA suspend all financial assistance to CONCACAF and CONMEBOL due to corrupt financial practices but not the CAF?

On the African continent, the report cites “the embezzlement of funds in Kenya and Zambia, internal match fixing within Nigeria and South Africa and in collusion with external betting syndicates, trafficking of young footballers to Europe by rogue agents, and doping in Kenya, which has recorded 19 positive tests and bans in the last two years”.

Perhaps it’s because the US Department of Justice criminal indictments for the moment only affect FIFA officials and individuals within the US, the Caribbean, Central, North and South America. Clearly, the same corrupt financial practices and unethical behaviour are done in Africa as documented by TI.

Such as “delegations of African teams to these big events are always bloated, with officials of federations, and even government functionaries, further abusing such occasions by taking mistresses, friends and relatives along for the ride, all at the expense of the taxpayer.”

FIFA’s recent action in arbitrarily suspending the financial assistance of $10 million each, to CONCACAF and CONMEBOL seems suspect and rather disconcerting.

These are not the actions of a victim, but seem to be more in consort with a culprit seeking to punish those who have caused its corruption to be exposed and also a warning to do their “master’s” bidding in the upcoming election or else.

FIFA’s argument that the suspension of funding is due to lack of accountability and transparency of these confederations and their members is moot. That has been the “way things have been done” for decades; in the Caribbean, in the Americas, in Africa, in Asia, and in Europe in full view and with no apparent oversight or query from FIFA and its auditors KPMG.

The election on February 26, 2016 seems to have been reduced to a farcical installing of another Blatter crony and a cursorial attempt at good governance through minute reform standards; basically placing a band aid over a gaping wound. How can the FIFA be considered a victim if it elects and continues to be operated by unsavoury characters who simply adjust their modus operandi?

On one hand FIFA suspends and fines numerous individuals after they are investigated and found in violation of its statutes and code of ethics. On the other hand, it is the same FIFA that previously declared there was no evidence of any violations by these same individuals all the while ignoring or covering up their illegal activities.

A victim cooperates with the law. A victim should seek compensation for any loss incurred. A victim should adamantly seek to correct the wrong that has been done to them. Conversely, a culprit seeks to hide, cover up, and delay any reasonable accountability, transparency, integrity or compensation.

To date, FIFA has not filed any lawsuit against any of the individuals who have pleaded guilty to fraud, bribery, money laundering, racketeering, disloyal management and/or misfeasance to recover losses which are now in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Has FIFA cooperated openly and completely, without reservation with the Swiss and United States authorities?

While there is a demand for FIFA reform, the sponsors (beneficiaries from the FIFA World Cup, FIFA Women’s World Cup, and other tournaments and competitions organized by FIFA) have too much to lose. The need for financial gain in this instance seems to outweigh the need for good governance.

In other words, give the impression of wanting an ethical organization and reform but never going far enough in seeking true reform as to diminish the financial rewards or political access that is gained through an alliance with FIFA. Unfortunately, having such two faced ideologies is the catalyst which germinates the seeds of corruption.

Case in point, Blatter giving “gifts” of football development funds to the Caribbean members in 2011 which was considered legal but, by the same token, Mohammed Bin Hammam giving “gifts” of football development funds to the Caribbean members in 2011 was considered illegal and bribes for votes. Who was judge, jury and executioner? FIFA.

It is said that while Blatter used FIFA’s funds as “gifts”, Bin Hammam used his own financial resources. To date, FIFA does not see what Blatter did as unethical, illegal or unlawful but suspended Bin Hammam for life.

FIFA, if it is a victim, however, may be suffering from the “Patty Hearst Syndrome” after being run by persons who have been brainwashed by individuals who were indoctrinated unabatedly through decades of decadence, arrogance and indemnity.

Similarly, the “battered wife syndrome”, FIFA may also be suffering from continual and systematic abuse to the point where it feels that it is the cause of its own unjustified abuse.

Remarkably, FIFA recently struck out at its abusers. FIFA had cuddled and protected individuals who played major roles in its demise; treading very lightly. Then in 2015, sanctions throve. However, the sanctions only appear to be worth their salt, due to the age of some of the violators and the convenience of “getting rid of some old, self-implicating or already rotting apples.”

Is it “true” change or just the appearance of change?

Unmistakably, FIFA has shown it is unwilling to make substantial and long lasting change. The old guard seeks to dismiss the well-founded allegations of corruption, conflict of interest, mismanagement and bribery as “a plot to destroy FIFA”. Snitching is abhorred and whistleblowers are thought to be snitches who by virtue of their deeds, receive threats and/or eliminated.

The means justify the ends no matter (money or life) the cost to the reputation and perception of FIFA.

So, is FIFA a victim or a culprit? FIFA cannot be the victim if it allows individuals to continue promoting self-interest over good governance, if it allows an atmosphere where bribery is not fraught, if it continues to foster a culture of political pandering and unethical alliances. If it is not a culprit, FIFA as an organization looks eerily similar to the MAFIA, an organized crime family.

Collister M. Fahie was born in Nevis and has lived in the US Virgin Islands (St Thomas) from 1987. He was elected Administrative Secretary of the USVI Soccer Association in 1998 and subsequently elected unopposed as First Vice President of the USVI Soccer Association four years later (2002). He is the president of the United We Stand Sports Club, Inc. (UWS Sports Club) a USVI non-profit corporation and voting member of the USVI Soccer Association. He is currently enrolled in Keiser University (Orlando) in the Legal Studies Program and will be graduating in April 2016.

For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Sports-Commentary%3A-MAFIFA%3A-Is-FIFA-a-victim-or-culprit%3F-29509.html

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