When it comes to sport, the dealings of FIFA and IOC over the past twenty five years leave them both vulnerable to accusations of corruption. I would not be the first to suggest this as a strategy, but it does seem to me that the best way forward for the UK sporting authorities concerned would now be to effectively ‘withdraw’ from contributing to debates and discussions held within these two governing bodies.
Here I would call in evidence a reference to Lord Acton’s famous dictum ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. However, I wouldn’t draw a parallel with the United Kingdom’s travails with the EU which prompt some Brits to feel that formal exit is the best solution.
Let us face facts.
After 2012 – great success as it was – the Olympics are unlikely to be held in Britain again for at least half a century.
Given England’s failure to be awarded soccer’s 2018 World Cup … and the subsequent controversy over the circumstances of that debacle which is now dominating the world’s media… it is inconceivable that England will bid again, let alone be awarded, another World Cup in my lifetime.
In such circumstances there is little to be gained from UK sporting authorities getting involved in the interminable internal politics of FIFA and the IOC. From now on we should just attend, listen and hold a watching brief within both.
Arguably, as regards soccer, international matches are increasingly unimportant anyway. England’s Football Association has become the fount of everything to do with English soccer only in name – the English Premiership is the key power.
It is probably the same in every soccer nation worth its salt. As global soccer continues to evolve, continental club leagues – and one day eventually even a club world league – are almost certainly on the cards. Surely, against the background of those possibilities, World Cups would inevitably become devalued, almost a quaint nationalistic anachronism … i.e. a series of festivals every four years featuring quasi-friendly matches that pale into insignificance beside the ongoing procession of ‘big games’ featuring the very best players playing for major franchised cities around the world?
In contemplating such a Brave New World for soccer and the Olympics, the inescapable fact is that their respective world governing bodies have already sown the seeds of their own misfortune with its accompanying lack of integrity, corruption and (hopefully) eventual demise.
We’re currently being reminded (by the billion pounds’ worth of fines dished out to banks in both the US and Britain for fixing foreign exchange rates) of the overriding deceit, corruption and laws of the jungle that have always applied in the money markets, in the City, in banking – indeed, in any human activity that can potentially result excessive profits and attitudes crystallised in Gordon Gekko’s mantra from the infamous 1987 movie Wall Street: “Greed is good”.
You never come across a poor insurance man, stockbroker, bookmaker, financial adviser, Formula One dictator, or even agent in any field who is on a commission.
Nor amongst Mafia godfathers, come to think of it.
But then again, nor amongst those in the ultimate positions of power within FIFA and the IOC.