Football is the world’s game. FIFA, the game’s body, codifies the rules for the entire globe. All it takes is a ball, markers for two goals and you can have yourself a game. In an interview with the BBC, Sepp’s daughter Corrine Blatter noted that he is potentially the only person in the world who can, “arrive in a country unannounced and be allowed to audience with a head of state”.
Seven FIFA officials were arrested on May 27th, following an FBI investigation into bribery and corruption during the bidding process of the 2010 World Cup. In total, 14 people have been indicted, leading to the postponement of the FIFA presidential election, which were set to occur in Zurich on Friday May 29th.
The universality of football has turned the sport into form of identity and belonging. This deep connection has only compounded people’s frustration. World Cup sponsors have been flooded with emails and petitions to pressure FIFA to change its endemic culture of corruption. In Europe, UEFA officials are meeting to discuss a total boycott of FIFA, with many feeling that things can only change if Sepp resigns from his position.
The game of football has never stood on such unstable ground. The assigning of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is now being investigated, and the future of these tournaments now looks uncertain. Historically the world’s football governing body has been critical in developing the game. They invested 1.052 Billion dollars globally between 2011 and 2014. So imagine the impact that a transparent and ethical culture could mean for the development of the game.
Football is about the fans. The game has thrived over the last century in large part thanks to the structure of FIFA, but the people who run the organization today are more politicians than supporters. The culture that this has created has led the game astray from its original values and principles. With FIFA embroiled in scandal, we should remember that the beautiful game needs a structure. Hopefully, as people at the top slowly pick up the pieces, they will begin to impose reforms that give us our ball back!