After years of denial and refusal to disclose its inwardly suspicious activities, the organization in charge of international football, FIFA, is finally paying for its many years of corruption.
This corruption is mafia-like in nature – and although it is still alleged and not confirmed - some of FIFA’s senior officials have admitted to involvement in offering or receiving bribes over US$150 million spanning a period of 15 years.
On Wednesday last week, seven FIFA executives were arrested in a Zurich Hotel as they prepared to participate in their annual general meeting.
Because of this, UEFA was pushing for the postponement of the elections, although surprisingly, it was pretty much alone in this endeavor. Other regions of the world seem like they don’t care about whatever is going on.
As usual, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) was one of the first organizations to state that they did not whatsoever support the postponement of elections. In the midst of this entire saga, I managed to glimpse the president of CAF, Issa Hayatou, on Sky Sports. At most, his views misrepresented me and every other genuine African football lover.
“We will not bow to pressure. These elections must go on and we pledge our support to President Blatter because of what he has done for African soccer,” that is what he said in a nutshell.
Such a statement has no respect for the game. We are talking about corruption Mr Hayatou. Huge levels of corruption that seek to destroy the world of football. And the best you can come with is blind support for Blatter “because of what he has done for African soccer!”
Basically, his message is, Africans will support anyone who is corrupt, as long as they have something to offer the continent. It is high time CAF realized that paying allegiance to corrupt individuals for freebies is a backward, colonial, slave-master mentality.
Africa has a voice – and with 54 voting members, out of a total of 209, CAF is the best represented in the football in the world. We just can’t compromise our voices! We need to show that we are against corruption despite the consequences.
The UEFA boss, Michel Platini, even went as far as to damage his long standing friendship he has held with Blatter by personally asking him to resign when they met face to face – but his request fell on the deaf ears of a stubborn mule.
If Europe failed in its endeavor to postpone the elections which were scheduled for yesterday, by now Blatter is the president of FIFA again, largely because of CAF’s religious support for him.
Some of the high ranking FIFA officials who were arrested on corruption charges have been released on bail, but some have pledged to cooperate with officials to satisfy investigations aimed at arresting at least 14 individuals wanted for money laundering and fraud.
American investigators stated that they did not intend to question Blatter about the corruption – and yes – he has done an incredibly good job at trying to get distanced from the scandal.
However, much, if not all of what has been going on has been under his tenure as boss.
There were bribes allegedly paid in 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and subsequently, more bribes were paid in the 2011 FIFA presidential elections. The 2018 and 2022 World Cups are also marred with as much controversy.
All this is pretty disappointing. So why doesn’t CAF use its strength meaningfully? Surprise us all turn against Blatter. Represent Africans meaningfully by saying no to corruption without fear or favor.