Here’s how it works, from top to bottom.
The current FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, recently told reporters that the “mechanisms in place related to…World Cup construction [in Qatar] are working, although challenges remain.” According to Amnesty International, those challenges include lax safety standards, crowded and unsanitary living conditions, “appalling treatment” of migrant workers, and the use of forced labour.
Mr Infantino’s predecessor, Sepp Blatter, has always maintained that the allegations of corruption surrounding the 2022 World Cup are fairy tales concocted by the “racist” British media. Funnily enough, Mr Blatter is currently being investigated by the Swiss authorities for purported “criminal mismanagement…and misappropriation” relating, amongst other things, to Qatar’s World Cup bid.
And last month, the FIFA Ethics Committee announced that it had opened an investigation into “possible violations of art. 13 (General rules of conduct), art. 15 (Loyalty), art. 19 (Conflicts of interest), art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits), and art. 21 (Bribery and corruption) of the FIFA Code of Ethics in the context of salaries and bonuses paid to Mr Blatter.” This comes on top of the body’s earlier decision to suspend Blatter from football for six years.
To be fair to the alpine mischief-maker, he’s not exactly alone. Former UEFA president Michel Platini is serving his own four-year ban and those pesky Swiss detectives have taken quite an interest in a suspicious payment of £1.3 million he received from—yep, you guessed it—one Monsieur Joseph “Sepp” Blatter back in 2011.
Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, an FBI investigation into the 2010 World Cup, 2011 FIFA presidential election, and 2016 Copa America has led to a total of 34 indictments. Former FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb and former General Secretary of CONCACAF Chuck Blazer have both been charged with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering.
As one might expect, the English FA has registered its shock and disgust at all of this. We told you so, the men in suits at Wembley opine.
But they weren’t exactly shouting it from the rooftops when they were trying to secure the 2018 World Cup, were they? In fact, I seem to remember the FA and Her Majesty’s Government bending over backwards to accommodate FIFA and its functionaries, going so far as to invite Mr Blatter to Downing Street for a spot of tea.
One can only hope that incoming FA Chairman Greg Clarke is a bit more observant when he gives evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee later this month regarding The Telegraph’s recent revelations of impropriety at the top of English football.
Whether anything will come of it remains to be seen. In a public statement, the committee pointed out that although “progress has been promised by the FA…the governance of football is cumbersome, and power lies with the clubs, especially in the Premier League.” Which is exactly what Clarke himself told The Telegraph, suggesting that the FA is essentially incapable of enforcing its own rules and regulations.
Well, you know what they say: it’s a funny old game!
James A. Chisem is a freelance writer. He is a keen advocate of supporter involvement in decision-making at club and league level. You can find the rest of his semi-cogent ramblings here, or follow him on Twitter @jachiz89.