On Wednesday November 17, 2010, FIFA announced measures it had taken against some of its top brass implicated in acts of corruption.
FIFA executive members Amos Adam and Reynald Temarii were suspended from all football matters for three years and one year respectively. In addition, they were ordered to pay cash fines. The two had told undercover journalists of their readiness to exchange cash for their votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Both men have said they will appeal but media reports indicate this will be after the World Cup vote scheduled for December 2.This will exclude the two from participation.
More bans and fines were handed down to four former FIFA senior officials one of whom, Fusimalohi, Tonga Football Association general secretary, had claimed he knew the undercover reporters to be “fakes and had played along to find out what they were up to”
On “rumours” that two nations were colluding with regard to the upcoming competitions, the probe found “insufficient evidence” of a vote trading deal. Although FIFA has the Sunday Times to thank for exposing corruption in the body and sparking the investigation, Claudio Sulcer, the Swiss chairman of the ethics committee, accused the news paper of “twisting the truth” and “sensationalism.”
He said the way the secretly recorded footage of Amos and Temarii had been edited and presented was misleading. One wonders why decisions should have been taken basing on “misleading evidence.”
There is no doubt that FIFA had access to the full length of the footage.
What was presented else where or the way it was presented does not matter. In any case, what the Sunday Times did was both in the interest of FIFA and the entire football-loving world.
For his part FIFA general secretary, Jerome Valcke, said the case represented a “sad” day for the organization. According to the Telegraph, Valcke hoped the Verdicts would restore confidence in FIFA and the upcoming world cup vote.
Meanwhile, people are suspicious about the hurry to choose host countries for the World Cups that are eight and twelve years away from now. According to the Associated Press, even Sepp Blatter “acknowledged that it may have been a mistake to combine the two World Cups into one bidding process”. Some see this as a move by the aging Blatter and his colleagues to create an opportunity to feather their nests before they go for their inevitable retirement.
As FIFA grapples with errant officials, it is being accused of encouraging corruption in National sports Associations in Africa. Multiple tales of bribes, bungs and bottomless pockets in eight countries were the subject of a special report published by the Forum for African investigative journalists -Fair- according to the Observer.
However, governments in Africa dare not confront national football officials lest they contravene FIFA’s policy of “non-interference.”
They say they only intervene because of gross mismanagement and corruption in their associations. FIFA says governments often use false allegations to replace football officials with their political cronies.
FIFA should appreciate what has happened. Reforms geared to good governance and transparency should be put in place and this should be coupled with the body being media-friendly. Banning some journalists from events for pointing out flaws is counter productive. Governing over 200 member federations is no easy task for FIFA but improving ties and cooperation with governments may help to rid football of many ills.
Suggestions to set up an International anti-corruption agency should be looked into.
Vedaste Kambanda is an employee at Rwanda Television (RTV).