Editorial: Fifa must stop rot and restore soccer's image

5 comments

Hosting soccer's World Cup is worth billions of dollars to successful candidates, not to mention immense prestige.

Given that, there is always the potential for bribery and corruption in the selection process.

Only the upholding of strict standards of ethical conduct by Fifa, the sport's governing body, stands in the way. Too often, this has not happened, and Fifa has become synonymous with tales of dodgy practices.

From time to time, light is shone on this. Never, however, has it been exposed so vividly as when two of its executive committee members were filmed by undercover reporters from a British newspaper offering to sell their votes to bidders for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

One, Reynald Temarii, a Tahitian and the head of the Oceania Football Confederation, said $3 million for a soccer academy in Auckland would be "helpful" in securing his vote.

The other, Amos Adamu, a Nigerian, asked for $1 million, half of which was to be paid upfront for a "personal project".

The newspaper sting also featured Mr Temarii saying two other unidentified bidders had offered US$10 million ($13.3 million) to US$12 million to the Oceania confederation.

In addition, two former members of the 24-strong executive committee advised the reporters how much money it would take to bribe Fifa voters. This all suggested well-oiled practice rather than peripheral tampering.

Most fundamentally, it placed a substantial question-mark over the dependence on personal probity in the allotment of World Cup hosting rights.

Mr Temarii has admitted he made a mistake in discussing the sale of his vote. But, astoundingly, he said in the immediate aftermath of the disclosure that he was confident his integrity remained intact.

Fifa's ethics panel was unconvinced and yesterday suspended Mr Temarii and Mr Adamu while undertaking further investigations.

As much seemed inevitable, given Fifa's code of ethics dictates that officials must refuse "any gifts or other advantages that are offered, promised or sent to them", and forbids them from "urging or inciting" people to offer bribes "to gain advantage for themselves or third parties".

The best that can be said for Mr Temarii is that he was operating in the interests of his confederation. His pork-barrelling was at least preferable to the personal profiteering that is at the heart of the allegations against Mr Adamu.

But the way both are said to have acted is far removed from the thinking that should be occupying them as Fifa executive members.

Their task is simply to decide what bid has the most merit and would be most suitable for the advancement of the game. It is not, as Mr Temarii seems to believe, a matter of what a potential host can do for his region.

For the sake of soccer's credibility, Fifa's code of ethics must be enforced. The episode reflects badly on this region, not to speak of Mr Temarii.

He has done much to promote the game since becoming the Oceania president in 2004, although it should not be forgotten that he also pledged to bring the confederation gravy train to a halt.

The matter should not end with the punishment of him and Mr Adamu, however. Soccer's governors could easily put an end to at least some of the horse-trading by strictly rotating the World Cup finals between continents.

The competition that currently places enormous pressure on both bidders and Fifa delegates would be less fierce. Equally, soccer's global reach would be underlined. No longer would money and influence threaten to override a wider vision.

The longer that the game refuses to take this step, the greater will be the belief that its rulers want to ride the gravy train as long as possible. And greater will be the ignominy that befalls soccer.

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 19 Apr 2014 12:19:13 Processing Time: 19ms