Change FIFA: What Reform Really Means
Football’s top governing body has dealt with investigations before, but nothing like this. Early on Wednesday morning, 14 officials were indicted for reportedly laundering over 120 million dollars over the past decade. The dawn raids confirmed what much of the footballing world had already suspected regarding widespread and complicit corruption, and it is now FIFA's turn to respond in the right way. FIFA has never been beholden to football supporters. It has often been a political tool, used to further the interests of powerful regimes. In the 1920’s they were pressured by some of Europe’s most violent nationalist dictatorships to fix World Cup results. In the 1970’s they helped prop up South American juntas in Chile and Argentina. The former FIFA President from 1974-1998, Joao Havelange, was charged with commercial bribery leading to his retirement. And in this most recent case, Russia's Vladimir Putin has condemned the USA, saying that geopolitics is driving the enforcement crackdown. Football fans have been calling for a change in football’s major governing body’s structure for years. Amongst these outspoken opponents of FIFA, few have been as vocal and offered as many practical reform ideas as Change FIFA. Established in 2010, Change FIFA was created to render FIFA more open and transparent by giving ordinary fans the opportunity to participate in elections. Their three main objectives include: allowing football fans to become FIFA members, giving these members the right to vote for future FIFA presidents, and enabling any person to become a presidential candidate. In this way, Change FIFA hopes that the game can be returned to those who love it. Wednesday’s events are the clearest indictment of FIFA that we have seen since Blatter was elected in 1998. Regardless of the result of today’s election, it is unlikely that we will see any drastic changes in the football body. In fact, it would almost be more disruptive if Mr Blatter wins the election, as it seems UEFA would subsequently increase pressures on FIFA and review their current relations. It is a culture that is endemic amongst football associations across the globe that needs to change rather than just the figurehead itself. It is time for fans to have a more constructive role in football governance. They are the spirit of the game, the ones that motivate the top players to become great, and great managers to become legends.