As we pick off the pieces of the failed World Cup bid, there is clearly a mood of anger against FIFA and the perceived corruption that occurred during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. My immediate reaction was, why the sudden interest in graft? Then why the surprise? And finally, is there any hard proof?
People are convinced there must have been widespread corruption for Russia and Qatar to have been successful, and given the reputation of FIFA, it is hard to mount a spirited defence.
Anyone who has followed FIFA’s history knows that they have never been far from controversy in the way many of their business dealings are handled.
For those that haven’t, but are suddenly enthralled, Andrew Jennings’ Foul! is a great place to start.
But many football fans in Australia seem to have changed their tune regarding corruption. When the Age commissioned an investigation into alleged corruption in Australia’s bid (an investigation the FFA were subsequently cleared of any wrong doing in), there were football fans foaming at the mouth at the scandalous lies that were being carried out as a part of the anti-football brigade.
What these hacks didn’t understand was that was the way business was done, and as long as we won the World Cup, then it didn’t matter who trousered any of our cash.
But suddenly, if you don’t win, then if that is the way business is done there is something very wrong with it.
It thus becomes pretty hard to take the claims that Australia should withdraw from FIFA, that a separate organisation should be set up to run international football (should we call it Super League?), or that Australia should begin lobbying to make these big changes in the voting system (given our apparent lack of popularity, I’m not sure how viable that is).
Surely the time to do this is not just after you’ve been bounced?
But can we really claim to be clean-skins in the bidding process?
As we all know our bid wasn’t just about Elle batting her eyelids (like no one else in the world has attractive women) and Cathy Freeman (because no one else has ever won a gold medal).
FFA board member Ron Walker said after the event: ”These people are very corruptible.”
Why didn’t you express that at the time, Ron? Or were you just hoping that the corrupt cartel might just hand us the golden ticket? It is hardly a stand steeped in principle.
This is from the same organisation that went out of their way to ensure Jack Warner’s wife received her pearl necklace (fairly ironic given the one the governing body would give us down the track) and, according the Sydney Morning Herald, also complained when the Federal Government was going to give Mr Warner a single bottle of wine instead of a whole case (how dare they!), as well as offering to pay for a journalist of Mr Warner’s choosing to fly to Australia.
Okay, hardly the sort of stuff that would put the Mafia to shame. But it was clear we knew what we were getting ourselves into. You don’t enter into a deal with the devil and then ask to contest the small print.
If we thought the process was open and transparent, why hire a bloke like Peter Haritgay? Let’s be clear, he was paid millions in order to allow members of the FFA to meet with officials in FIFA.
Hartigay himself said that no-one met Sepp Blatter more than Frank Lowy, because he organised the meetings. Gee, sounds like the sort of bidding process we should have been proud to be part of.
”I don’t think it’s part of our DNA to play the corruption game in sport,” Walker said, as the dummy went from the pram and the victors were labelled cheats and even terrorists.
I’m glad he added the “in sport” part, otherwise it would have been simply too much to bare.
AWB? Wollongong Council? Queensland Police? NSW Labor?
There is a pretty good list going around for anyone who takes their head out from under the flag. Hell, Alan Bond was a national hero and was probably a bit miffed he didn’t find himself in the bid cartoon.
Hell, Hoges was probably having his stoush with the ATO when filming his spot (and why was he called Mick Dundee?).
But if we have all of a sudden become fans of transparency, then why not put that energy into something useful and pressure the Government or FIFA into ensuring that Qatari Stadiums are built while also passing a few basics tests on workers’ rights?
Mumbling on about corruption and “we wuz robbed” won’t help anyone now, but giving a builder in Qatar a fair day’s pay and his passport back might actually achieve something we can be proud of.