FIFA: A laughing stock that isn’t funny anymore

A year after South Africa held such a fantastic (bar England's performance) World Cup, they are still waiting for £50 million FIFA promised them.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter

A year after South Africa held such a fantastic (bar England’s performance) world cup, they are still waiting for £50 million FIFA promised them under their 2010 world cup Legacy Programme.

The Sun reports:

“President Sepp Blatter and his cronies, who raked in an estimated £1.24billion from the tournament, earmarked the cash for education, health and social projects as well as soccer development.”

A spokesman for the fund said:

“None of the £50million has been spent – not one cent. The money is still in Zurich. The delay is simply down to the amount of time it takes to establish legally recognised bodies for handling this amount of money.”

No doubt this will come as great consolation to the poverty stricken people of South Africa. As The Sun writes:

“Lawyer Richard Spoor – representing locals in Matsafeni, where the 41,000-seater Mbombela Stadium was especially built – said: “Even now there’s no adequate water supply and the living conditions are totally unsanitary.

“The roads are unpaved and there’s no proper sewage system. The conditions are unhealthy and frankly quite deplorable.”

This is not just one more example of FIFA’s failure as a responsible and representative international organisation, this is a dereliction of duty that is costing some of the world’s poorest, opportunities and services that they were promised.

And there is further evidence of ill deeds at the heart of FIFA today, with the news honorary president Joao Havelange is to face an International Olympic Committee inquiry over his relationship with collapsed FIFA marketing partner International Sport and Leisure.

Back to South Africa, and as Tony Dykes, the director of Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), wrote on Left Foot Forward last weekend:

“Hosting the World Cupwas an opportunity to market South Africa and it took it brilliantly.

“But hosting the World Cup was never a panacea for all of the challenges South Africa continues to face… South Africa is still a very divided society, by race and gender but increasingly by class.”

Add to that the unequal benefits provided by the tournament that often failed to span these social divisions. As John Hilary, the executive director of War on Want, wrote on this blog last year:

“The tournament has been a bonanza for the rich at the expense of the poor…

“Many have been adversely affected by direct assaults on their homes and their livelihoods, in a country which some reports now identify as the most unequal in the world

“Fifteen thousand people were removed from their homes around the England team’s training ground in Athlone to the infamous Blikkiesdorp camp miles outside Cape Town, while South Africa spent £400m at FIFA’s insistence on the brand new Green Point stadium, which will leave no legacy whatsoever to the people of the Western Cape; those who have been evicted have been offered no compensation for the livelihoods they lost along with their homes.”

The South African people who needed the revenue of the world cup most, have been failed first by their own government, then by FIFA in failing to exert any influence to prevent such behaviour, in fact they clearly exacerbated the problem, and now FIFA have even failed to pay the country the money they owe it.

The question some might ask is why should we expect anything different of FIFA.  Sunder Katwala summed up the problems of the organisation prior to the election that wasn’t of Sepp Blatter for President, writing:

“So FIFA, rather more than the IOC (International Olympic Committee), is now synonymous with misgovernance and corruption. Global football, therefore, remains in search of its Gorbachev candidate and its glasnost agenda.”

While waiting for FIFA to have this moment, we are left not knowing whether to laugh or cry at this hugely powerful, completely unaccountable organisation.

If you choose to laugh you might, for once, agree with the prime minister, who said yesterday one thing he has learnt in his last year in office is that “if someone tells you they are definitely going to vote for your country to host the world cup, they are lying”. We now know if they say they are definitely going to pay you the money they owe you, that might not be true either.

12 Responses to “FIFA: A laughing stock that isn’t funny anymore”

  1. PatriciaDeLilleNews

    FIFA: A laughing stock that isn't funny anymore – Left Foot Forward

  2. FifaWorldCup2010

    FIFA: A laughing stock that isn't funny anymore | Left Foot Forward: A year after South Africa held such a fanta…

  3. alda

    FIFA: A laughing stock that isn't funny anymore

  4. Scanning Systems

    FIFA: A laughing stock that isn't funny anymore

  5. Selohsra

    The coronation of Blatter for another term of leadership without an election was outrageous and totally unlike the coronation of Brown as Labour leader & PM without an election.

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