FIFA, SAFA voting baffling

Mark Gleeson

The worst excesses of officialdom have been on display for the last week, again begging the question of whether football’s leaders are there to serve the game or do they believe the game is there to serve them.

The dirty machinations of FIFA politics dictated last week that two future World Cups goes to the two bidding countries with the worst report card from world football’s governing body’s own inspectors.

Ignoring the merits of much more credible candidates, Russia and Qatar were chosen in a decision that blindsided all expectations, but was apparently predetermined months before the vote in Zurich last Thursday.

Merit was replaced by political expediency. There is an argument for taking the World Cup to “new lands”, as FIFA president Sepp Blatter said. Russia maybe, but Qatar? Really! It smells of two much gas for my liking.

The wasted millions, indeed billions, by major bids from Spain/Portugal, England, USA and Australia could have been better utilised for the development of the game. The English newspapers worked out on Sunday that the money down the drain from their failed bid would have built some 50 indoor pitches around their country for kids to keep playing in the midst of their frequent nasty weather.

At home too, politics continues to chew up the resources of the game that could better be used for the development of the game.

The South African Football Association held their general meeting on Friday and voted in a fourth vice-president and four more executive committee members. There are now 28 of them. Goodness knows why so many are needed.

It means more members now to travel to meetings, more to hang around national team games on all expenses paid trips and more costs for member’s privileges. Money that could be better spend funding and developing players for the future.

The reason why there are increased numbers is pay back for the victory in the last year’s SAFA elections for Kirsten Nematandani when in return for support, obscure provincial suits were promised a ticket to the main football table. What will it do for the good of the South African game? Nothing! Is it necessary to have four vice-presidents? No! But Danny Jordaan needs a position and so is handed a made-for title.

How will the game in South Africa be better served with 28 executive committee members rather than 24? It is easy to suggest this is just abuse of the system to reward cronies and allies fin election payback.

It is increasingly the way of football officials, as the game’s monetary spoils continue to grow, that they pay no more than lip service to the real good of the game. Instead their top priority is privilege, position and where they can, filling their pockets. FIFA’s executive committee are seen worldwide as nothing more than a Mafia conglomerate. They are saved only by the rampant appeal of the World Cup.

SAFA’s leadership might not have plunged the same depth of intrigue and subterfuge, but 28 snouts in the trough bodes no good.
Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

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