We need a new governing body for the world game. News of the latest allegations of bribery at Fifa is not really news at all – merely the continuation of an all-too-familiar tale, a destructive narrative which has been running for decades.
Since British colonial rule of the world game was undercut in the 1970s, those at the top have forged an unholy alliance between commercial sponsors, the previously voiceless smaller football nations on the margins, and a group of self-selected power brokers who see football as a vehicle for their own self-aggrandisement.
The outcome is a murky, unaccountable hybrid: a post-colonial one-member-one-vote forum in which smaller nations vie desperately for development funds on the one hand, and on the other, an opaque vehicle for the ambitions of its leaders and global corporations. Not everyone at Fifa is corrupt. But its structure is – and needs to go.
Len Shackleton, professor of economics at the University of Buckingham, and economics fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, says No
Fifa’s fat cats face the perp walk. Sepp Blatter will not be among them. But he cannot win re-election and retain credibility for the organisation he claims to serve. Jordanian princes may not be the most obvious people to save world football from further obloquy, but Ali bin Hussein deserves a chance.
If elected, he should call in international auditors and recruit a management team from outside the existing structure. He should work closely with democratic countries, rather than sucking up to crooks in the name of diversity and political correctness. If the Russian and Qatar bids were won unfairly, the World Cups in these countries should be scrapped.
More modest competitions would suffice until reform is complete. An international body representing millions following football worldwide is a great ideal which shouldn’t be left to die. It can still be saved if this moment is seized.