In the build up to the May 2015 election (No, not that one with those politician idiots, the other one with, err, well the footballing idiots) Sport Editor Jack Pethick discusses the candidates, issues and potential outcomes of the FIFA Elections.
This month sees the results of the 2015 FIFA elections, where either Sepp Blatter, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Michael Van Praag or Luis Figo will be elected as FIFA president. Oddly enough, this event is often very quietly covered by the world’s media, probably because Sepp Blatter has won it the last 4 times and it often clashes with other- perhaps more important- political ones.
As stupid as it sounds, this 2015 election could drastically change the future of football, if Blatter is not re-elected. For the last 15 years or so, Blatter’s presidency has been full of controversy, corruption allegations and quite simply a lack of common sense. But who am I to judge, why not hear some of the comments Mr Blatter has made over the years:
On attracting more followers to women’s sports:
‘Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?’
On dealing with racist in football:
‘He should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.’
On the match-fixing scandal in Italy:
‘I could understand it if it had happened in Africa, but not in Italy.’
But anyway, what about the other candidates?
Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein:
Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein is the third son of King Hussein of Jordan, and the second child of the king by his third wife, Queen Alia. Since the 6th January 2011, he has been the Vice President of FIFA for Asia. Ali believes that an unfair system of patronage has taken root under Blatter and that drastic measures are needed to restore the credibility of FIFA’s name. Ali’s manifesto centres around 4 key themes: Development, Football and the World Cup, Commercial success and Corporate Responsibility. The manifesto contains several thinly-veiled digs at current President Blatter, but nevertheless a few key issues arise from these core aims:
1.) A detailed 10-point proposal for development, including providing more support for National Associations who need it most and more investment in Women’s Football, Women’s and Youth Tournaments, establishing Regional Development Offices and simplifying the FIFA development application process.
2.) Ensuring that, within four years, every single Football Association in the world will have what it needs to play the game, including basic infrastructure and equipment.
3.) Ensuring that any decisions about FIFA World Cup Expansion are made openly, democratically and for the good of the sport, based on meaningful professional research.
4.) Protecting current revenue streams, reducing wasteful spending, and generating significant increases in revenues – therefore increasing the funds available to invest in football around the world.
5.) Transforming FIFA’s approach to governance and embracing a transparent, democratic leadership style which encourages debate, empowers others and ensures a clear understanding of the roles of all within the FIFA administration including the role of the President himself.
Michael Van Praag:
Michael van Praag is a former chairman of Ajax Amsterdam and the current chairman of the Royal Dutch Football Association. One of the more unknown candidates, Van Praag shares many manifesto points with fellow candidate Luis Figo. The key element of his campaign is a need for increased transparency in the world’s footballing body and his key phrase being ‘Football for Everyone’. These are just a few key issues taken from the Dutchman’s manifesto:
1.) Increasing the amount of teams who participate in the World Cup from 32 to 40.
2.) Creation of a “world trainer’s academy” for coaches and “central referee’s academy”
3.) “Normalization”; Publishing of the ‘Garcia Report’ and the publishing of all executive committee meetings.
4.) Reinstitution of “financial humility”
5.) Will only stand in office for 1 (4 year) term- something that should be implemented for future presidents too.
6.) More attention paid to human rights in FIFA statutes
For many avid football fans, this man needs no introduction. Figo, who’s list of achievements includes being the most capped Portuguese player ever, winner of the 2000 Ballon d’Or, 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year, and in 2004 was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players. In addition, Figo’s trophy wins include the Portuguese Cup, four La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, three Spanish Super Cups, one UEFA Champions League title, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, two UEFA Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, four Serie A titles, one Italian Cup and three Italian Super Cups.
However, Figo is now a man of footballing politics, undoubtedly his footballing reputation may have some influence over his campaign, but do his policies match his reputation? Figo, who’s campaign twitter hashtag is #ForFootball, outlines 9 key points in his manifesto all starting with the word ‘change’, they include:
1.) Change and Development
2.) Change and Solidarity
3.) Change and the World Cup
4.) Change and FIFA’s structure
5.) Change and Leadership
6.) Change and Cooperation
7.) Change and the Law’s of the Game
8.) Change and Protecting the Game
9.) My Pledge
From these 9 points, some key points of his manifesto can be filtered:
1.) Increase participation and expertise in both elite and grassroots football.
2.) Improve refereeing and distribution of infrastructure and football material.
3.) Fairer distribution of FIFA’s finances.
4.) Expansion of the number of places at the World Cup and cross-continetnal tournaments.
5.) Re-implement FIFA’s image of being a body at the highest ethical and moral standards.
6.) Increase and create a fair debate for further introduction of technology into football.
7.) Pledge to take a pro-active approach to the running of the World’s footballing body.
Sadly, the general public does not have a say in these elections, that in itself is a whole new debate that could be explored. The elections are based on the votes received from the individual footballing bodies themselves such as the FA. However, this in itself is arguably one of the key reasons for the mass corruption that exists in FIFA currently. In fact, in an interview released by The Guardian last year, revealed how a previous candidate claimed that FIFA changed the voting system to ensure Blatter would be re-elected, despite having less than 10 per cent of the voting consensus. One striking quote from the report, stated how: ’Fifa officials like to talk about how it’s a great democracy, but most great democracies don’t have one-candidate elections.’ It is quite frankly incredible that sport which represents the ‘peoples game’ and has so much money invested in it, contains so much corruption that goes relatively unnoticed or unpublicised. One only has to go onto FIFA’s official website, to see how sections of it are dedicated to the achievements of Blatter when they are supposed to outline the President’s role and responsibilities. FIFA needs a drastic shake-up if we are to seed the much needed change in football, and it starts by removing the King from his throne.
Blatter quotes taken from sportsmolfe.co.uk