I quite enjoyed the BBC Panorama documentary last night detailing corruption and fraud within football’s international governing body, FIFA. FIFA behaved consistently as if they do not need to respond to any of the fraud allegations, but we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that should have been used for the development of the game, all ending up in the back pocket of FIFA board members. The BBC presented a number of new facts that proved illicit payments to at least three FIFA board members.
However, the argument in the UK media is that the BBC is unpatriotic to expose these people just a few days before the vote for which nation will host the 2018 World Cup. We are relying on these same people to vote for the England bid just as the BBC accuses them of fraud.
But the BBC is not the voice of the State. I would love to see England get the World Cup in 2018, but if the BBC affects the impression of England and a bunch of FIFA crooks don’t vote for our country because they don’t like to see their dirty laundry aired in public then doesn’t it demonstrate some much greater British values, not least about the freedom of the press?
Would anyone really want to see a situation where the BBC had evidence detailing how many bribes these FIFA officials have taken, but they kept quiet to ensure those same people voted for England?
Whether we win or lose this bid to host the 2018 World Cup, it’s time for the English FA to join forces with other national football associations and to demand that FIFA is entirely reformed… it should be an open, transparent, not-for-profit association developing football across the world, not a shady cabal of villains all earning millions by having their votes bought.