I was intrigued to read a Guardian report with the title “Fifa makes me sick and Blatter runs it like a dictator”, featuring one of my footballing heroes, Gary Lineker. Not only was Gary Lineker one of England’s better, most consistent, players of recent years, but he played the game with renowned good sportsmanship and is now turning into a very good sport’s commentator. So when he lays the charge of corruption against football’s premier governing body, then my inclination is to listen and weigh what he has got to say.
The World Cup that finished only three weeks ago was in the opinion of most a resounding success, with the best team in the world, Germany, crowned champions, with good football played in a generally good spirit and conducive atmosphere. I have already posted my opinion on what England must do to achieve success in the future, i.e. put country before club, ration the number of foreign imported players in top flight football and invest more in building footballing excellence among the young. But it is worrying that there appears to be compelling evidence that suggest the organization of the game at the highest level may be corrupt.
The Guardian report suggests what many have felt for a long time, that the awarding of the World Cup finals to Qatar in 2022 was based not only on non footballing reasons (I can think of few worse places in the world in which to play the most important tournament there is) but those who so awarded the games were bribed to do so. The influence of unwholesome commercial interests e.g. through advertising, such as betting and alcohol, is particularly worrying.
I hope (yet somehow doubt) Gary Lineker will get support as he raises concerns over corruption. He should be encouraged to speak out, rather than what sometimes happens – made to shut up and/or sacrificed. It won’t be easy given the powerful vested interests that would seek to prevent this. But if we love the beautiful game, we must call upon the whole infrastructure to be rid of corruption for the game is to prosper. I hope those responsible for football in this country will have the moral courage to do what is needed, even if this may mean we don’t enter the World Cup if demands aren’t met and it leading to an, at least temporary, split in world football.