With the World Cup just two days away, the FIFA Congress convened in Sao Paulo to take care of many internal issues. However, the stories of corruption, bribery and misuse of power are slowly catching up with FIFA as politicians, presidents of confederations, sponsors, and perhaps most importantly, the public are wearing tired of the politics.
After John Oliver took to HBO this past weekend to emphasize the issues surrounding FIFA, their Congress is even more contentious.
The biggest part of the Congress is the potential re-election of Sepp Blatter for his fifth term as president. He will probably get the nod despite the clear violations of ethics. Conveniently enough, the investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will not be released until six weeks after the teams leave Brazil. The number of scandals under Blatter’s leadership since 1998 are too numerous to count.
Some people recognize the social issues with the World Cup in Brazil. Both in Brazil and South Africa, FIFA used its power to force the countries into building stadiums that will soon be empty, thus forcing people out of their homes. As human rights become more and more challenged by the actions of FIFA, this Congress becomes the most important. There is also more pressure as various sponsors of the World Cup have used similar language that emphasizes ethics and fair play.
UEFA president Michel Platini is the most outspoken critic of Blatter. There are other big names joining the fight, and many of the countries that lost out on the 2022 bid to Qatar have felt alienated enough to join the battle. In the UEFA meeting of today’s Congress, FA chairman Greg Dyke directly questioned Blatter on racially-motivated links to the 2022 World Cup.
Despite the protest against Blatter outside the hotel in Sao Paulo and inside the board room, there are at least four confederations that have pledged support for a 2015 re-election. However, rumor is that Blatter promised UEFA in 2011 that his current turn would be his last. That has changed and so has global soccer politics.
As Oliver said in his rant, FIFA will continue on because the World Cup will be watched by a record number of people. If more sponsors put pressure on FIFA and the people come out to protest, there could be changes ahead. Regardless, this FIFA congress is about corruption and Blatter needed to be challenged by the confederations.