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Sunday, March 7, 2021

FIFA corruption affects us all

Reading Time: 3 minutesThe corruption scandal emerging in the world of football causes us to question instances of success and ponder whether undue influence played a role

Indians are well known for their love of cricket, and though they do enjoy a good game with the round ball, it does not really capture the imagination as much. However, the corruption scandal which is emerging in the world of football does cast its shadow regardless, not only in the administration of the game, but also the effects that corruption can have in the minds of the people.

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When the 2022 FIFA World Cup was awarded to Qatar, the decision surprised observers of the game. A number of factors leading to this decision did not add up, and when it won the final 14-8 vote against the United States, suspicion only grew stronger about how these votes were won. Qatar’s only merit was that the World Cup had never been held in an Arab nation.

The Australian public indeed has a right to feel angry and insulted. Australia spent $45 million on the bid and got one, yes, one sole vote in its favour. Either the country’s governing body totally misread the play or there were other influential factors, albeit unsavoury, in action. In both situations, the Australian public – you and me – were played for mugs and it will be interesting to know what actually happened and who was advising who with what knowledge.

FIFA (World Cup Football) is truly a world event. After the Olympics, it attracts some of the largest participation, not only in terms of nations playing, but also in terms of viewership. There are very few world games which can come close to this global phenomenon. Rugby, whether league or union, is limited, and golf has its restrictions. Cricket is only played by a few countries, and played well by a further select few. It has therefore escaped global scrutiny and though there have been findings of corruption, these have been largely been against players rather than against officials.

Yet, for all those who follow cricket, there have been murmurs about the heavy handedness of the officials. India, with its financial might, has an undue influence on the game.

An example is Narayanaswami Srinivasan, who was loudly booed by the 93,000 plus spectators at the recent ICC World Cup victory presentation ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Srinivasan was investigated by the Mudgall committee of India’s Supreme Court inquiring into corrupt practices in the Indian Premier League. He was exonerated, but questions remain regarding the spot fixing which occurred under his Chairmanship of his IPL team. Srinivasan resigned as President of BCCI and yet, at the same time, the big three of the cricket world, India, Australia and England, in the same week blessed him as the head of the ICC.

Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA president, has also been accused of ignoring corruption under his nose.

The world sporting bodies are now at notice to weed out any whiff of fraud and dishonesty.

With corruption, those who play by the rules feel helpless, while the thieves prosper. We start to lose faith in society’s institutions and collective nihilism sets in. We question instances of success and ponder whether undue influence played a role.

For younger stakeholders, the idea of success through corruption becomes acceptable as opposed to achievement through hard work and sound ethics. Solid leadership and strong public voices are needed to root out such corruption.

 

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Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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