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Russell Berrisford

Russell Berrisford

Russell’s support of Derby County eventually led him to leave the country. He has lived in Canada since 2007 and currently writes about soccer for The Vancouver Sun.


TANGENTS

FIFA: Is it 1989 or 1848?

Written by on June 2, 2011 | 6 Comments »
Posted in Money Game

Anybody who has witnessed the last few weeks of politicking in world football can’t have failed to notice that there has been a fundamental sea change in the way that FIFA is both regarded and reported.

Prior to the current crisis there was an almost resigned air of fatalism that the world’s governing body was beyond shame but also beyond breach. A heavily fortified fiefdom of fat cats and bureaucrats that would be with us into perpetuity.

Something though has altered. Call it resentment over the World Cup allocations or call it moral indignation at a backroom meeting too far, but what it really amounts to is a large-scale shift in mood.

Doesn’t sound too dramatic does it?

But it is a change in mood that is the force behind the current political unrest in the Arab World. It was a change in mood that brought down the Soviet Union and the dictators of the Eastern Bloc; a change in mood should not be underestimated. It can be a powerful thing.

Of course no-one would actually put FIFA in the same moral wagon as despotic tyrants or brutal dictators (well some would but they go too far), but there are similarities in perception that are too striking to ignore.

The stench of corruption, the sense of power for the sake of power, and the feeling that something beautiful is being presided over by something ugly.

If FIFA were the ruling party of a Totalitarian state they would almost certainly be shredding the documents and checking the fuel levels on the helicopters just about now.

So good will eventually triumph over evil and will be well? If only life were that simple.

We have come to accept the truth that the overthrow of a hated ruler is necessarily a good thing; that it brings freedom and prosperity to a beleaguered populace. That is the lesson that we learned from Europe in 1989 and it is the meme that we attach to all uprisings against tyranny in the modern world.

But the history of Europe has other lessons to teach us.

A series of revolutions also spread across the continent in 1848 which, at the time, were hailed as being the harbingers of democracy and freedom, but instead resulted in the violent and bitter splintering of rival factions and an even more despotic and authoritarian rule taking hold in many of the nations affected.

Splintering of factions anyone? A small number of national associations have already placed themselves effectively outside of the FIFA organisation in everything but name, and it seems likely that others will follow.

More despotic rule? Whilst Blatter remains as President does anybody doubt that he will not only look to protect his legacy but also root out those that have opposed him?

The sport currently stands at a precipice that is both enticing and treacherous, for it seems likely that the mood of the fans will force FIFA to become a very different entity than it is at this present moment.

Whether that means the world game will be more united than ever or a fractured remnant of what we now know is something that will only be revealed in the coming years.

Interesting times.

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6 responses to “FIFA: Is it 1989 or 1848?”

  1. Mr Berrisford, FIFA is corrupt but not alone in this world of big corrupt organizations. Soccer is doing better than ever, what is FIFA’s real problem outside of what bureaucrats are running it

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8113075/the_morality_of_sport.html

  2. Gus Keri says:

    Russell:

    It’s not 1989 or 1848. It’s 2011.
    It’s the spirit of the “Arab spring” and there is a big difference.

    It’s a shout against corruption and favoritism.

    Looking at the majority of the members representing FIFA or any of the confederations, except UEFA, you can see a lot of people to whom a $40,000 will go a long way.

    It’s very easy for an organization that has tons of extra money to buy most of them and have them in its camp for ever. There is no deterrent whatsoever.

    How many of these 186 candidates who voted for Blatter have benefited from him over the last 13 years? Why would they change now and cut off their milk supply.

    I only hope that the small demonstration outside the FIFA headquarter is the beginning of true uprising of the soccer fans around the world.

    It’s afterall, the soccer fans who are paying the price for all FIFA wrongdoings.

    They are the ones who pay for extra money that goes to the crooked. They are the ones who are paying for the inflation in soccer that has been driven by the commercialization of the game.

    This election is like Ali Baba asking his 40 fellow thieves to vote for him as a leader of the gang.

  3. Russell Berrisford says:

    Centralhalemite- Thanks for the reply (the longest ever to one of my posts).

    Despite your objections to my position I think that, ironically, we agree on the conclusion; which is that nobody knows what affect the changes at FIFA will have on the world game, good or bad.

    You end by saying “FIFA is corrupt, but as long as soccer is safe, and soccer is definitely safe, who cares about their bureaucracy”.

    I would argue that allowing a corrupt organisation to oversee the game is not a good way to maintain that safety in the long term.

    Thanks again for the input.

  4. Russell Berrisford says:

    Gus- yes I think that the attitude of the fans (which will seep into the sponsors) will be the crucial factor in all this.

    “It’s not 1989 or 1848. It’s 2011.
    It’s the spirit of the “Arab spring” and there is a big difference.”

    There are those who still argue whether the “Arab Spring” is more akin to 1989 or 1848, so tempting though it was to use that analogy I didn’t.

  5. Roberto Manita says:

    Russell,

    Very insightful article with regards to asking if this revolution will end up like 1989 or 1848. I, for one, am not too optimistic with this wishful thinking concerning an “Arab Spring” considering the religion which is practiced in that part of the world and how it resembles totalitarian regimes through the prism of its religion. The last time there was a revolution in the region we certainly did not have an “Arab Spring”. Remember Iran in 1979? Turned out to be more like an ‘Arab Winter’ (or ‘Persian Winter’ in their case) and much more similar to 1848 than 1989 to be sure.

    Regarding Sepp and FIFA, I’m a little pessimistic here too. Once Blatter’s reign is finally over I envision the organization quickly transitioning from one despot to another. Just like in the old USSR. But, admittedly, 1989 did eventually arrive on the other side of the Iron Curtain. When will it arrive for FIFA?

  6. ha your welcome mr. berrisford,
    I have been itching to write a blog on the overall media’s negative view of FIFA for a while.

    Yes we do agree, I am not speaking of what will happen in the futre, more than likely it will be something down the middle.

    In the long term FIFA’s corruption, is a safety hazard. But, isn’t the better way to handle that to clean up the regional football confederations, and even better the football associations themselves.

    FIFA demanded USSoccer make a professional league by getting the world cup and lets be honest, it wasnt done openly. Hunt and Anschultz designed MLS and in so doing have forced everyone to deal with the mistakes in their design, which are very evident, but USSoccer was to blame for handling it that way , in the first place.

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