Home Op-Eds UEFA AND THE “SMALL COUNTRIES” PARADOX AT FIFA

UEFA AND THE “SMALL COUNTRIES” PARADOX AT FIFA

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FIFA as currently constituted does not enjoy democratic legitimacy because its leadership structures and decision-making is hinged exclusively on the popular consent of its 211 voting members.

This same principal is cascaded downwards to the Confederations where the so-called popular vote is applied and generally accepted as representative of the will of the governed.

FIFA eligibility is almost similar to that of the United Nations which recognizes 193 members and 2 with observer status. The process of application and acceptance into the UN is as simple as signing the UN Charter and approval by the UN Security Council.

The justification for the existence of FIFA cannot be gainsaid and is self-evident for all to see. However, its simplistic approach to Governance has managed to alienate the most important segments of World Football, by allowing a few very greedy leaders to misuse the system to their individual advantages.

Money, and the pursuit of it has been used to justify the most egregious of crimes in human history, from colonialism all the way to the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Just slightly over 80 years ago, the Swiss legal and banking system, under the banner of neutrality during the 2nd World War, was able to justify doing roaring business with both the allies and Nazis.

Part of Nazi gold that made its way into Swiss Bank vaults during WW2. The Swiss calimed neutral status and used it as cover to do business with both sides.

In fact, while the Nazis were crushing Jewish skulls and ripping gold teeth from their jaws for their smelting furnaces in the death camps, which roared 24 hours a day, the Swiss blissfully welcomed the gold bars and looted money into their vaunted secrecy and deep repositories, in the name of genuine business.

It can be argued, and quite ingeniously too, that the period of absolute freefall in the morals at FIFA, the escalation of financial impropriety with impunity, the sale and purchase of votes of members, the misuse of the organs of FIFA for parochial ends have taken root during the eras of these last two (2) Swiss FIFA Presidents.

FIFA Presidents since its inception, with latest 2 Swiss Presidents eras coinciding with a dark era of FIFA moral decay.

The FIFA Presidents before Sepp Blatter came mainly from serious footballing countries, and to a large extent, held a certain standard for the game. Some of the previous Presidents may even be accused of racism against African countries in witholding voting status, but what can never be controverted is the epic rise of football globally. These were indeed men of honor.

Granted also, that there has been an acceleration of the amounts of revenue generated by FIFA, this has been in tandem with the expanded broadcast space, global populations, globalization, expanded social media and rising disposable incomes of the citizens of the World, which has been true even for the Olympics.

Neither of the two Swiss-origin FIFA Presidents invented the current conditions for which they would wish to take absolute credit for.

Today, the 2nd Swiss at the head of FIFA (Gianni Infantino) has attempted to sell off World football and justified doing so with substantially larger share of the largesse distributed to each of the voting members, without need for proper accountability.

Proposed FIFA Forward 2.0 showing a substantial increase for the period 2019-2022 from the previous cycle 2016 -2018

The European members of UEFA know FIFA President Gianni Infantino intimately, seeing as he was until recently, their Secretary-General (SG).

During his tenure it was later discovered that he used his position to enable the flouting of the sacred financial fairplay rules and allowed Arab money to flow without limit into two (2) football clubs – Manchester City and Paris-St. Germain – thereby giving both clubs hitherto unavailable purchasing power, much more than their commercial net worth could ever hope to generate.

Pep Guardiola being unveiled by Manchester City owners. They used Infantino while he was at UEFA to flout Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

Since then, these two clubs have had “pole position” in the transfer market, which they have managed to leverage for domestic success, and which has propelled them to scintillating performances at the UEFA Champions League.

The financial multiplier effect on the initial cash injection that was sanctioned by Infantino has paid off 10-fold, but at the expense of competitors and an unstable league system.

In 2016, using the popular vote, the football family rewarded his crimes and indiscretions by elevating Infantino to the Presidency to the World Football Governing Body –FIFA.

Gianni Infantino wins the FIFA Presidency in February 2016, beating Prince Salman and rising to high office despite his transgressions and corruption exploits at UEFA.

By promising the members an increasingly larger share of the football cake, he justified the proposal for the creation of several new global competitions during the intervening periods between World Cups.

This move has ostensibly been underwritten by more Arab money, which Infantino seems unable to extricate himself from, even if it means using non-consensual means on its membership to achieve this end.

Arabs…very strange characters in their approach to football…why wouldn’t they pump in all this money into their domestic leagues, and turn these leagues into beacons of light and magnets for the best global talent instead of their current trajectory of buying out any European club that is not properly nailed down?

Oh well, the economists among us will justify this by saying ludicrous things like “nature abhors vacuum” or some such justification.

The United Nations (UN) core mandate is the maintenance of global peace and security among its members. Of its six (6) critical organs, the General Assembly and the Security Council attempt to address the disproportionate legitimacy questions of popular democracy against vested interest & massive investment.

The United Nations: It has a refined generic system of democratic legitimacy based on precise realities.

The General Assembly would be the main deliberative organ of the UN and comprises all the UN member states and which meets in regular yearly sessions, or in certain circumstance, Emergency sessions may be called.

The Security Council is charged with maintaining peace and security among the UN member countries. While the other organs can only make recommendations to member states, the UN Security Council has the power to enforce into “binding decisions” that which member states have agreed to implement.

The decisions of the Council are referred to as UN Security Council Resolutions.

The UN Security Council comprises 15 member states, consisting 5 permanent members – France, China, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States- and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.

The UN Security Council which should be the emulated by the FIFA Council to bring parity between members.

The five permanent members hold veto power over UN resolutions, allowing a permanent member to block adoption of a resolution, though he cannot block debate on it.

It is clear why the 5 holders of the Veto do so, considering their known interests globally, the investment in armaments and manpower, and their preparedness in the event of conflict.

Their positions in the UNSC doesn’t stop these countries from forming multiple cliques depending on their other interests like NATO, G7 or even the G20.

FIFA, with some cheek obviously, borrowed an element from the UN by renaming its EXCO, following the ignominy of the 2015 FIFA-gate scandal, to the FIFA Council.

But that is where any similarity ends completely, with FIFA now adopting hegemonic repose, where an organization as complex as this is run purely on the basis of the popular vote.

The FIFA Council, the body that runs the organization in between the annual FIFA Congresses, exhibits the most rudimentary representation from the Confederations, despite its critical role.

Without question, the FIFA World Cups and other competitions have grown by leaps and bounds on the shoulders of the UEFA and CONMEBOL National teams and participation. This follows the stellar performances of their respective domestic leagues, the Champions League & Copa Libertadores respectively, and for the senior men’s teams, the European Championship and Copa America.

This huge following is not accidental rather it’s the outcome of sustained professionalism, massive investment by Governments and National Associations, practical approach to fan maintenance which all translated in decades of uninterrupted sponsor and broadcaster confidence.

World Cup performances (Semi-finalists) since inception: Almost exclusively the preserve of UEFA and CONMEBOL countries.

All other confederations, CAF, OFC, AFC &CONCACAF, in this regard are also-runs or better still, flower girls to the global football events.

This sad situation has not been accidental either and has been fueled by the anti-thesis to everything practiced by the UEFA and CONMEBOL football associations. Lack of professionalism, corruption, nepotism, neo-imperialism, laziness and just plain misplaced arrogance and stupidity.

For sure, we are yet to witness reverse migration from these UEFA/CONMEBOL FAs seeking greener pastures in the other Confederations, rather only a constant stream of players from CAF, OFC, AFC and CONCACAF attempting to make it to the former’s leagues, even at 3rd or 4th tier.

This then begs the question, in a popular democracy like FIFA, how do those countries that have invested heavily in their football protect their interests, considering the fact that they are a minority?

How was a situation allowed where every member association of FIFA was allowed suffrage, on a one-man-one-vote basis without a system of balancing the interests? Why have the under-performers in the World of football been rewarded with such decision-making powers at the expense of the top performers?

A quick assessment of the composition of the FIFA Council is mind-boggling to say the least. The entire council along with its so-called bureau are populated with representatives of the National Associations at the bottom of the barrel… the dregs of World football.

The FIFA Council, majority of whom come “democratically elected” by and from the most backwater footballing Nations, yet seek to make the most crucial decisions.

The FIFA Bureau has FIFA President Infantino together with eight (8) vice-presidents from each of the 6 Confederations.

In what must be pure tokenism, UEFA has been “allowed’ three (3) Vice-Presidents instead of the obligatory one (1) VP to each of the other Confederations.

However, should matters come to a vote, the UEFA/CONMEBOL representatives would be washed out by a tidal wave of votes by their colleagues from the struggling Confederations.

This whole brouhaha surrounding the “hostile takeover” of CAF by FIFA has been an eye-opener into the level of vote-buying that goes on in the African Confederation and a sad pointer to its knock-on effect in the other Confederations.

FA Presidents who were literally bought to vote in a certain way by CAF high command.

By December 2018, Veron Mosengo-Omba, FIFA’s African and Caribbean Regional Director, said that 19 out of the 54 African FAs had failed to access funds from the FIFA Forward Development Programme that was launched in May 2016.

Veron Mosengo-Omba, FIFA’s African and Caribbean Regional Director and former Infantino classmate, who broke the shocking news of African FAs haplessness

“Whilst all the European countries have claimed their shares, only 32% of funding is being utilised by Africa because 19 nations failed to meet the basic requirements from FIFA to access the funds”, he was quoted by the BBC.

He further confessed that only 25 out of the 54 African FAs were accessing the FIFA Forward funds.

“It’s tough because problems ranging from a failure to present tailored projects, administrative problems, and inability to provide valid documents to leadership crisis have deprived 19 other African countries”.

Veron Mosengo-Omba, FIFA’s African and Caribbean Regional Director who was appointed solely because he is a former Infantino classmate and not out of any merit or specialised football skill, broke the shocking news of African FAs haplessness.

Did you see that?

How then do these CAF and FIFA members become eligible to vote at Congresses when they have NEVER fulfilled the most basic membership eligibility criteria?

How do African FAs which have NOT met eligibility criteria to receive FIFA Forward funds, be allowed to vote by FIFA and CAF

The football leaders of these same FAs that CANNOT present a SINGLE tailored (100% financed) project or present valid documents to FIFA of their FAs, can then be elected to the FIFA Council or CAF Exco, to take some of the most critical decisions on World or Continental Football.

Cross-section of African football leaders who apparently cannot put together a coherent plan to enable them receive free FIFA funds, but wish to sit on the FIFA Council. What a travesty!

Could we be wrong, and that Infantino is actually a UEFA “sleeper agent” in FIFA whose role is to ensure that what is left of the rest of World football is completely destroyed?

However, to our earlier point, when you relate the competency issues in CAF, with the one where we have confirmed number (35 to be precise) of African FAs who regularly, willingly sell their votes in order to cast it one way or other, depending who is paying.

The “list of African shame” comprises some of the most backwater countries in the World, with no meaningful football infrastructure, leagues and with rudimentary level National teams.

Wouldn’t it be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for these African National teams to make it to the FIFA World Cup without a mandatory quota appropriated to them?

African teams meritoriously going to the FIFA World Cup without the mandatory quota per Confederation.

Clearly, the FAs of CAF, AFC, OFC and CONCACAF are “suicide bombers” at FIFA, and who are content not to develop football in their respective territories and therefore resigned to the fate of selling their votes periodically at Confederation and FIFA level, and if very lucky, be allowed by Infantino and his toothless Ethics committee to misappropriate FIFA Forward funds.

Their choices for representatives of their Confederations to the FIFA Council speak clearly to their disdain for those from progressive countries.

How will UEFA and CONMEBOL protect themselves from this onslaught?

Obviously one-man-one-vote used by FIFA to equalize all members and then referred to as democracy by intellectual dwarves, is an anathema.

UEFA and CONMEBOL continue to flirt with an all-consuming fire, erroneously believing that they can control it, simply because they have history with the arsonist – Infantino.

It is time for UEFA and CONMEBOL to leverage all the advantages at their disposal to negotiate a “UN Security Council” position in FIFA with veto powers.

If they don’t, they will both be swept away by the filth being stacked against them. And by that time it will be too late.

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