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It’s time for the European Commission to investigate FIFA

FIFA’s attempt to justify awarding the 2022 World cup tournament to Qatar is a perfect example of what is so wrong with the organisation. The grandly named FIFA Ethic committee has produced a report that takes hubris to a whole new level, writes chief political correspondent Tim McNamara.

Suffice to say that the Ethics committee report has been trashed by Michael Garcia, the investigator FIFA appointed to look into the awarding of the FIFA world cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

Garcia says “Today’s decision by the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report.” In lawyerly terms this is as strong a condemnation as you can get. In laymen’s terms he means it is so biased and wrong  that it is unreliable.

Garcia’s only course of action is, supposedly, to appeal to the FIFA Appeals panel, which does not have an impeccable reputation either.

It is time that the European Commission investigated Fifa for  ‘abuse of a dominant position’.  It is unbelievable that these global monopolies can bend the will of governments to their ends. Their ‘presidents’ trot around the globe demanding VIP treatment as if they were the equivalent of heads of state.

As the confederation responsible for football in Europe, UEFA, is a component part of FIFA, hence the actions of UEFA should also be subject to EU law and national laws as they impinge on national football associations and their individual financial interests. One could go further and argue that UEFA distorts competition in the EU by organising a competition (the Champions League) that continually rewards a number of ‘elite clubs’ that helps to perpetuate sporting and consequently, financial inequality.

It is time for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition to take a close look at the activities of UEFA and as a component part of FIFA, at FIFA itself. It should also be of subject of interest to the police in several countries if ‘inappropriate inducements’ have been offered by national football associations.

To observe a FIFA organised football event close-up is to see the quite incredible amount of junketeering that takes place. Junketeering that ultimately is paid for by the supporters of clubs and national teams and who indirectly pay for the TV rights that underpins everything.

Firstly, wherever the event is hosted, all of the very best Hotel Rooms are reserved for FIFA and its guests. The number of guests will run into the high hundreds and doesn’t include those guests of sponsors and associated partners. Every Head of any global sporting body (and their partner) will be invited. These will include such notables as the head of the World Handball Federation, the head of FINA, the world swimming governing body, the head of  the CIU, cycling’s world governing body (who have an unenviable track record).

All will be invited to partake in UEFA’s hospitality with their home organisations paying for travel and ‘pocket money’ only. Of course, reciprocal invitations to other organisations official events are the order of the day in a self-serving circle of perpetual junketeering indulgence.

Not only will it be sporting administrators from other sports but it will also include the head of all the national affiliated partners of the sport and an extensive guest list of lackeys and hangers-on to complete the equation. Major football events are becoming so laden with VIPs that up to 50% of the available tickets can be taken up by non-interested guests of sponsors and organisers.

Many of sport’s governing bodies are based beyond international scrutiny in secretive Switzerland and these organisations claim they are above the law in individual countries and regularly suspend member organisations if a National Government attempts any form of real oversight on the nationally-based affiliates.

FIFA has been the subject of a good deal of criticism, but it is not the only one. The International Olympic Committee is another.

As Andrew Jennings has written (How FIFA corruption empowers global capital) in Chapter 4 of the admirable work, Player and Referee: Conflicting Interests and the 2010 World Cup, FIFA and other International sporting organisations such as the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the IOC have become the Trojan Horse of global capital over local culture, partly dependent on the battering ram of rights holders’ relationships with international sporting competitions, especially the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.

A full copy of Player and Referee: Conflicting Interests and the 2010 World Cup can be downloaded from the Institute of Security Studies website which can be found at .




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