Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Now there's a chance for FIFA to clean its act up

It was my intention this evening to write a few thoughts on the FIFA corruption investigation, but after Sepp Blatter's shock resignation today my thoughts on this blog have had to change.

Firstly I think I'm like most football fans in this country when I say this is brilliant news. It's made even better by the fact that it seemed so unlikely. I think people cyncially assumed that Blatter would ride out this current storm and keep going like he has done for so long.

I've always thought that to reform FIFA it would need three separate groups to take a stand against the organisation. The three groups are: The major international football nations of Europe and South America, FIFA's main sponsors and the television broadcasters.

If the major football nations decided to boycott a future World Cup and form their own alternative competition, FIFA would have no choice but to bow to pressure to reform. A World Cup simply wouldn't be viable without the big European and South American teams.

This leads us onto the second group, the sponsors. FIFA's biggest sponsors include Adidas, Coca Cola and Visa and it's clear that any World Cup without the biggest nations is not in their interest, the second issue for them is their continuing association with an organisation tainted by sleaze allegations. If they withdrew sponsorship FIFA would be screwed.

The final group are the television broadcasters. Can you imagine if the likes of the BBC and ITV decided not to bid for broadcasting rights in protest against FIFA? Without broadcasters who is going to watch the World Cup and bring audiences to advertisers and sponsors?

In the end none of these groups needed to threaten or take this action. The twin investigations by the FBI and the Swiss attorney general's office have found evidence of criminal wrongdoing so strong, that Blatter and FIFA find themselves in a position that is untenable to maintain.

Blatter simply had to resign, and with an organisation mired in corruption allegations, Blatter has to take responsibility as this has happened under his leadership.

Last Sunday I was reading about the investigation led by the US Justice department and FBI in the Sunday Times, they also had a feature on their Insight team who have conducted their own investigation into FIFA corruption for a number of years.

It reminded me of what great investigative journalism is all about. The time, effort and resources to compile and gather information to tell a story.

With Blatter shortly to step down, there's a great opportunity to reform and restructure FIFA completely. What's probably needed is a whole new guard of officials and executives to take over the running of the organisation. People who hopefully have few links with many of those currently accused of corruption.

There's a long way to go, but today is a good day for world football - lets hope that Sepp Blatter's resignation is the start of a new beginning.



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