FIFA: Killing Two Birds With One Shot | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Columnists, Conversation of an Angryman

FIFA: Killing Two Birds With One Shot

Posted: Jun 8, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


It has always been the most curious part of western hypocrisy that while they claim to be outraged by sit-tight African heads of state and presidents, like one Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, they appear to be comfy with sit-tight presidents of FIFA and its affiliate bodies. One Camerounian, Issa Hayatou has been the president of the Confederation of African Football from the dawn of modern Nigeria (when Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida was Nigeria’s head of state) until now.

Hayatou has outlived five Nigerian heads of state and he appears to have no intention of ever handing over. He is the Robert Mugabe of African football and like Mugabe, may mark his 90th birthday in that office. To put the matter in a better perspective, anyone who was born the year Hayatou emerged as president of CAF is no more qualified to play for his country in the Olympics because he has already clocked the time bar of 23 years. Such a person is now 28 years old – and qualified to contest for the highest office in most countries.

It is also a common part of the world’s popular wisdom that what is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. What is good for Hayatou in CAF should be good for Mugabe Zimbabwe. Right? The West says no. They want Mugabe out at any cost, but they do not mind Hayatou staying on. Why? The tacit reason is that football was invented by the devil as a way of ensuring that idle minds stay idle and unproductive.

Sepp Blatter has been at the head of FIFA for seventeen years now. No one, in the West, has paid him any mind nor has anyone considered that absolute power corrupts absolutely. He has become both a deity and a principality.

But how are the mighty fallen! Blatter is now embroiled in an investigation over the kind of corrupt practices the world has almost come to refer to as the Nigerian crime (kickback). So what would any one expect in a game which is not in the Bible or in the Koran or in any of the world’s books of worship? You would not expect the constitution or rules of decorum to be obeyed in mafia circles, would you? So what is wrong with the West?

So what, on God’s green earth, is wrong with a kickback in a game that trains people how to kick back, kick straight, kick forward, kick overhead and undertake all kinds of kicks? In football, we celebrate kicks. But the United States, which does not like soccer to begin with, and does not know how to kick the ball at all, has raised so much storm about kickback that the storm has swallowed Blatter (he has opted to resign). If he hopes to find peace in retirement, then he should be reminded that he who fights and runs away, lives to fight or run another day.

However, the most annoying part of the jigsaw puzzle is that a country that does not like football is trying to hang those who manage football – the beautiful game. I figure this is “soccerphobia.”  America is crazy about basketball (a game which only value is that it orients you with skills on how to throw a banana peel into a street side dust bin from inside a bus without hitting the traffic warden on the road side); American football (a misnomer about a game which involves carrying the ball with your hand, running like a train and hacking down everyone on the way): and cricket (which has nothing to do with crickets at all but about a man throwing the ball, some dude hitting it and another running down somewhere – three largely uncoordinated activities but which manage to draw thousands of crowds because like the pop group the Soul Children sang, “I don’t know what this world is coming to”). They are largely getting away with this name “cricket” because animal rights activists have not yet considered the harmful effects the name has on live crickets – more so you cannot name a game after a creature without that creature’s permissions.

The other source of irritation is that the United States is claiming that South Africa bribed FIFA to take the 2010 World Cup to South Africa. It is normal to show appreciation in Africa – we do it all the time. When the American government shows appreciation, they call it “tip.” So why was this a bribe and not a tip? They should leave Africa out of their mess. The South African World Cup was one of the best in recorded history (better than the one done in the United States) and that is the way it is. This took place five years ago and the trail is cold.

However, apart from the South African matter, the FIFA men still have cases to answer over bribery cases spanning a 24-year period and involving more than $150 million (one hundred and fifty million United States dollars). No wonder any man who ascends to that office will want to hold onto it for life. United States in its vengeful hounding of football has indicted 14 people on bribery, money laundering and racketeering. The United State’s Justice Department, peopled by persons who could not tell the difference between football and tennis ball, is leading the investigation.

The hangman (or if you prefer, hang woman) is Loretta Lynch who has accused FIFA of half a century of “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted corruption”. She claims that FIFA’s powerful “corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and to enrich themselves.” FIFA retorted that American should busy itself with human rights in America and the plight of African Americans in that country.

FIFA has it all wrong. In international diplomacy, America does not obey the red card. More so, killing the world’s most popular sport may open the way for basketball and the other sports. That way you can kill two birds with one shot.