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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


FIFA Survive A Perfect Storm

Written by on June 1, 2011 | 6 Comments »
Posted in Money Game

Four more years. That was the news from Zurich on Wednesday as Sepp Blatter was handed another, and almost certainly, final term as the President of FIFA.

It was the climax – or more accurately the anti-climax – to an extraordinary series of events that left two FIFA Executive Committee members suspended pending further investigation of alleged improprieties, another member of the Executive Committee fired (or maybe not) by CONCACAF and the world governing body for football left with all the gravitas of a Monty Python’s movie.

In the days leading to the election FIFA faced an onslaught of attacks from all and sundry – everyone from Prince William to the lowliest tweeter struggling to spell “corrupt” correctly.

Anyone following (and perhaps taken in by) the English language coverage on the internet might be shocked that FIFA and their President could take such a beating but still find a way to stagger through an election without any demonstrable commitment to change.

After all what we had here was the Perfect Storm heading for island FIFA.

Just coming off a highly charged and controversial World Cup Finals bidding process, what at one point was looking like a contested Presidential election, explosive allegations regarding one of the candidates just days before the election and all played out with the backdrop of a FIFA Congress.

Never before has a FIFA Congress garnered so much attention and never as it endured such intense media coverage. And FIFA still survived to fight on. Or more to the point most of the powerbrokers within world soccer survived to fight on.

When you step back from the countless articles, podcasts, blog posts and tweets you have to ask did it really make a difference? Let’s face it hurtling words from a keyboard into cyberspace is hardly a re-enactment of the Paris Uprising of 1968.

Did it hit home or did the digital volleys just smack the choir rather than their intended FIFA targets?

The media campaign will wither with sporadic coverage as other allegations or findings emerge. The mainstream media will be distracted by transfer deals, managers being fired and marital indiscretions of star players – and FIFA knows it.

What will be left is an intrepid group of investigative reporters who have spent many years trying to focus the cold light of day on FIFA malfeasance.

(Was there anything more ironic than the outlets that in all seriousness ran stories about Adidas expressing concern about the allegations of FIFA corruption? Adidas, the company founded by Horst Dassler, the man who was at the epicentre of engineering the 1974 FIFA Presidential win of Joao Havelange. Engineering being a nice way of saying Dassler’s money bought support for Havelange. Dassler’s activities were not restricted to soccer either but extended to making sure that his man Juan Antonio Samaranch became IOC President as well. And it doesn’t even leave time for discussion about another company he founded called ISL.)

Tomorrow – Russell offers clues to how things might change; Friday – Bobby with where change may come from.

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6 responses to “FIFA Survive A Perfect Storm”

  1. paul says:

    Success within FIFA is achievable through, at best, cynical politicking, and at worst, blatant bribery. So the organization is full of the rich and the toadies. How do you break that pattern, when they are accountable to no-one but themselves? You mention Adidas, with some skepticism. But I think it’ll only be from sponsorship pressure that there might be meaningful change.
    Btw. I think you mean allegations, not allocations (paragraph 6).

  2. Paul – thanks for catching the mistake. I am tempted to now say that the fix is in.

  3. gorn says:

    I posted a question to you after your Rants article. Thanks.

  4. greg mclauchlin says:

    I’m glad you mentioned Dassler’s name. I was surprised by the lack of historical context in some of the coverage of this story.

    Dassler not only engineered (he was called the puppet master in Germany) Havelange’s rise, ISL and the modernization of sports marketing but he also hand-picked Blatter to run for the General Secretary of FIFA.

    Blatter was trained by Dassler (in his own special brand of business “ethics” and with Havelange, they set about bullying the then General Secretary Helmut Kaser out of his job. The remarkable thing was that Kaser stood firm in the face of constant attacks but eventually caved when Blatter married his daughter.

    And there has also been very little mention of how the English FA betrayed Lennart Johannsson in 1998 and backed Blatter because they wanted to host WC2006.

    Regarding FIFA sponsors/partners: I think they will quietly tell Blatter & co to clean up their act (in public atleast) which Blatter will then pass off as his legacy to the game. They aren’t going to lead the revolution that some in England have called.

    If you look at FIFA’s partners/sponsors, they are some of the biggest and most controversial companies in the world who have faced scandals in the past that makes FIFa’s indiscretions look like child’s play.

  5. Roberto Manita says:


    Thanks for your insights on this FIFA mayhem. Looking forward to the next article(s) on this matter and Friday’s FSR too.

    Off topic question/subject. Remember when Brasilian Ronaldo retired and you put up an article asking where his place, if any, was in the ten greatest footballers of all time?

    We just had a tremendous goalkeeper, Edwin van der Sar, with a long and storied career filled with many trophies calling it a career. Why not pen an article of the ten greatest GKs of all time and asking a poll question if readers believe VdS should make that list or his placement on that list? Of the top of my head, and without doing any research on the subject, I would put Gordon Banks, Lev Yashin, and Peter Schmichael on that list. Active GKs worthy of consideration, for me, would be Iker Casillas and Buffon.

  6. redfan says:

    One member one vote is the only way forward for deciding world cups, or continental competitions. All interested parties should have a vote in what ever decision affects their country and until that happens, too much is open to pursuasive tactics by political or business interests.
    Ethics committees should be made up representatively of each continent as such a move would limit the scope for corruption.
    No president/Gen Sec should be allowed more than one term in office and each continent should take a turn at having the Gen Secs chair.
    Until this is brought in, FIFA will be run by a select few where nepotism is the core engine and voting is a front for what has already been decided behind closed doors.

    The farce continues.

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