Football – In Tact as Ever (Part One)

by Traolach Kaye © Traolach Kaye (March 4th 2015)

Hmmm!

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Qatar 2022: World Cup fall-out could tear football apart …” – Dan Roan BBC Sports-editor

If they donʼt believe it, why are they saying it, if they do believe it, they shouldnʼt be soccer analysts, so one way or another, they are wrong. Sometimes when you see these clowns…..well, then, you would have to wonder not about my sanity, but the BBCʼs sanity …”

The latter quote was made by the Former Manchester United and Milwall player, Eamon Dunphy, reflecting on BBC Match-of-The-Day Pundits during the 2006/2007 Premier League Season. So where does this leave us?

Weʼve been here before. Either the BBC donʼt believe what they are broadcasting or publishing, or they have gone mad. If they do believe it, they arenʼt fit for purpose, that purpose being to follow their mission, ʻTo enrich peopleʼs lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertainʼ.

So, what is the BBC saying? In perfect keeping with the tone of their attack which commenced with gusto on December 2nd 2010, the BBC continue to react to every utterance by and announcement of FIFA with a contrary response which both finds fault with whatever pronouncement FIFA has offered whilst seeking to always remind the viewer/reader that FIFA is corrupt, is upsetting football, is racist, is out of touch, hates women, and is just generally no good.

The New Mission

The BBC is no opinion-piece merchant. Funded by the taxpayer, and with an explicit mission to ʻenrich, entertain and educateʼ, they appear capable only of one of above trifecta, namely entertainment. 

Entertaining their own opinion, entertaining the opinion of conventional wisdom, entertaining the opinion of whatever agenda must be pushed, foisted and promoted until the target audience is left in no two minds about how things are and how things must be. Regarding FIFA, they operate a one-size-fits-all policy, employing key words in their riposte, irrespective of what it is that FIFA may have said.

Roan doesnʼt run the BBC, and is merely an agent of same. He is however the sports-editor of the BBC News. Fresh from goading, rather than entertaining, informing or educating Liverpool fans during the protracted takeover of the club by Fenway Sports Group (then a Sports Correspondent) Roan now today finds himself charged with spearheading BBCʼs latest thrust against that perennial threat to Global Peace and Harmony – FIFA.

Knock, Knock, Knocking

The door of FIFA has been kicked, yet the rest of the rotten structure seems not at all close to crashing down. FIFA, the masters of largesse, have pushed out the boat in many quarters, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, South Africa and now Russia and Qatar. This largesse has made them very popular, especially in Asia and Africa.

It is no surprise that these are confederations that have many votes, which comes in handy at election time. Carry Asia and Africa and simple arithmetic tells the result – a lesson some have not grasped. Sepp Blatter certainly understood it.

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FIFAʼs major product – the World Cup – is something nations compete with each other to host. Football is increasingly popular and is the dominant global sport. England wanted to host the 2018 World Cup and failed to get enough votes. The results were a national embarrassment. It was not a bad bid, but it was out of step with FIFAʼs intentions and also those of individual federations.

Ever since, we have been treated to a monologue on the ills of FIFA. We are now expected to believe that Football itself is on the very verge of destruction because FIFA has decided to host the 2022 World Cup during the ʻWinterʼ of that year.

What is Football?

Football? Torn Apart? What is football? What does somebody mean when they say ʻFootballʼ. Do they mean the ball itself? Football, the game or sport? Football, the TV slot? Football, the Industry? 

When Roan and the BBC opine that ʻFootball could be torn apartʼ, they think, or more accurately want us to think, that they are talking about football in the Global, organized grass-roots sense of the word.

Football associations, football clubs, jumpers-for-goalposts, Football tournaments, the very fabric of football itself, the very essence of the game, is at risk. Uncle Sepp is going to get us all. In fact, the BBC are are referring, perhaps blithely, to their own narrow, oblique view of what football is and what football is about. Football the business, football….our businessOur gameThe game we gave the WorldThis thing of ours. 

Outraged?

It is no great leap to suggest that their contrived outrage stems from a sense of loss, a sense of exclusion, that they are no longer running the show and are merely instead a bit part of an organization that pays them no heed.

Third-party private organizations are entitled to organize their events as they see fit. It is up to other parties how they respond to this. Jérôme Valcke, FIFAʼs General Secretary, has told people to “Get on with it”. BBC pundits Danny Mills and Phil Neville agree with Valcke, but Roan has responded by kicking and screaming. He could do worse than consider the sentiments of the aforementioned home-grown pundits and others who have asked candidly, “Whatʼs the problem”?

The problem is that certain people have a bee in their bonnet about FIFA and rather than express it, they prefer to engage in tangential oblique nonsense. Mr Roan wants the reader to consider how the Winter World Cup imposes on the ʻCherished Festive Fixture Programmeʼ. It is lovely alliteration. It is also terrible reason. This ʻFestive Fixture Programmeʼ is not in fact a programme as much as it is semi-organized chaos, itself the subject of no small perennial, year-round criticism by domestic parties, It is bemoaned and criticized by players and managers alike, all year, every year. It is not liked. It is due for reform.

Hedged Bets

The author has hedged his bets. Perhaps aware that the ʻfestive disruptionʼ claim was as tenuous as it was false, Roan claims that More international friendlies are almost certain to be sacrificed.”  But International Friendlies are themselves the bane of the very Premier League whose best interests Mr Roan says are being interfered with.

However, we know how important some of these international friendlies can be. Consider one in particular. England tried to do business with Jack Warner by travelling to Trinidad & Tobago for a nothing friendly in 2008 in order to court Warner into providing support in CONCACAF to vote for England to host the World Cup of 2018. It was a fiasco as extracts of Michael Garciaʼs report on corruption in FIFA show. FIFA gleefully released those extracts, which suggested that Warner et al received a quid pro quo from that ill-advised friendly.

After this match Warner was exposed as corrupt and quit FIFA, exposing some of his dealings with the very dubious former head of the USAʼs federation, Chuck Blazer. Warner has a history – he was caught selling his complimentary tickets for the 2006 World Cup. He paid it back and it was business as usual until Blazer, once Warnerʼs protégé, decided that his apprenticeship had lasted long enough and tried to oust Warner.

It is conveniently forgotten that the fall of Qatari football executive and once cheer-leader of Blatterʼs 1998 bid for the Presidency of FIFA, Mohamed bin Hammam, was originally expelled from FIFA due to his attempt to ʻbuyʼ Warnerʼs influence for his own Presidential bid – exposed by Blazer. The American is no whistle-blowing anti-corruption pioneer. Blazer was neck-high in Warnerʼs shenanigans. But Warner was targeted by England to help their World Cup bid. Does this not question their anti-corruption credentials?

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England now wants to talk about corruption, but what was the football reason for the 2008 fixture in the Caribbean? What did then England manager Fabio Capello gain or learn from it? Did Capello request that particular opponent and if so why? For FIFA, attack became the best form of defence – given an open goal by the FA.

Perhaps England would do well to hold her tongue. but they try to berate FIFAʼs corruption. The BBC was at least consistent. Andrew Jennings has highlighted FIFAʼs corruption issues long before it became fashionable to do so. The FA complained that the BBCʼs Panorama programmeʼs exposé of corruption in FIFA on the eve of the vote impacted negatively on Englandʼs doomed bid.

A cursory examination of recent events lends no small credence to the opinion that England should keep its counsel. England had hoped to host the 2018 World Cup which instead went to Russia – worse still the Russia of Putins, Abramovichs, Usmanovs and Berezovsksy, etc.

England was shocked – outraged even. They had after all run a ʻgreat campaignʼ, part of which had been courting the influence of Jack Warner. Their bid had been officially presented by Prince William, nephew of Prince Andrew, the former trade envoy who told the Serious Fraud Office to keep out of the British Aerospace deal with Saudi Arabia. Glass houses?

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Football Unite

by Segun Odegbami © Segun Odegbami (January 1st 2015)

Segun at Wembley

My Only New Year Resolution

Welcome to 2015 and a happy New Year to all the readers of this column. The legendary soul singer, the late great Sam Cooke said it best: ʻA Change is Gonna Comeʼ. Actually a change has gotta come. As the world enters into 2015, I have set for myself one goal, a resolution of some sort – to join forces with whoever loves the game of football to stop Sepp Blatter from returning as President of FIFA when the next elections hold this year.

I just do not understand it. The sit-down syndrome in any organised setting is anathema to good governance, and is denounced globally for its penchant to turn even good leaders into power-drunk dictators. The history of the world is littered with the story of several of such political leaders. Their end usually is a sad story of abuse of power, corruption, internal strife and conflicts, controversy and the death of true democratic principles.

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Sepp Blatter must be stopped now

As the race for the Presidency of FIFA begins the worst news to come out of Zurich is that Mr Blatter has not only indicated he would be running again but that no one within the Executive Committee is actually challenging him despite the mountains of scandals and controversies that hang around the neck of the organization and now threaten the integrity of the greatest game in the world.

I do not intend to go into the details of the ugly scandals and charges that have rocked FIFA since Blatter became its President in 1998, and that have claimed several high profile victims within the football family through the years (Jack Warner, Mohammed bin Hamman, Lennart Johansson, Farro Ado1, and so on). He has even claimed to be incorruptible.

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The mere fact that Blatter promised that he would not be standing for the Prseidency again after the 2011 elections makes his recent announcement very annoying. He is making a mockery of the rest of the world. The man’s word cannot be trusted. It is just ‘full of sound and fury signifying nothing’.

The Old Guard

Sepp Blatter started his career in FIFA in 1975. That means that he has been part of the organization for 40 years. He has spent the last 16 as its President. By next year he will be 80 years old.

In a period in history when the world is preparing to send young men to the red planet, and planes that will cross the Atlantic in one hour are being designed, what is the new innovation this old-fashioned and old man is bringing to the world’s greatest sport?

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What did Blatter forget to do in the past 40 years that he has been part of the organization that he now wants to introduce at the twilight of his life? What is he afraid of in a new leadership? Or better still, what is he hiding from the world that he thinks will remain hidden forever? His predecessor – almost 100 years old – João Havelange was no stranger to accusations of corruption. He ran FIFA as his fiefdom. He was forced to resign his role as FIFAʼs Honorary President in 2013 because he had accepted bribes between 1992-2000 totalling £1m. Blatter was his protege.

Disheartening

Only Jérôme Champagne, a former General Secretary of FIFA, has summoned the courage to do what is obviously desirable and needed now for the advancement of world football – enter the race. Perhaps he can end the Sepp Blatter reign and usher in something new – something refreshing to take football to the next level.

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It is truly disheartening, shocking and disappointing that despite the numerous monumental scandals that have rocked the world body through the years, and the baggage of charges that Blatter has had to carry and parry with impunity, which presently and menacingly threaten the integrity of the game of football, the man still has the guts to eat his own words and announce to the world that he would be contesting the Presidency again.

The great tragedy is not that he wants to run, but that he might win again, whilst the rest of the world is watching and keeping silent. But how can this be?

What hold does Mr Blatter have over the other members of the Executive Committee of FIFA that makes them cower in the face of his arrogance? Recall how bin Hamman withdrew from the race in 2011 and was subsequently banned from football for life twice. Recall how Issa Hayatou, threatened by the IOC for allegations of corruption, bowed to pressure and withdrew also.

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History Repeats

In the 2011 elections Mr. Blatter was returned unopposed as President because there was no ‘clean’ person within the organization to challenge him. The same scenario appears to be is playing out again in 2015.

For example, why did Michel Platini, tipped by many after 2011 to be his likely successor, withdraw his candidacy from the race as soon as Blatter indicated interest to return? It is really shameful and unacceptable that the man under whose watch some of the most atrocious corruption charges have been levied remains uninvestigated and untouchable atop the organization.

Even the most recent controversy about the bribery allegations surrounding the 2022 World Cup and the Garcia report that was mangled to protect some interests within the organisation, are being swept under the carpet.

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Power Corrupts

Blatter has become too powerful for comfort. Until and unless he leaves FIFA and its activities will continue to remain shrouded in the murk of scandals. It is amazing that with the developments following Garcia’s report, protest and resignation, the FIFA President did not step aside to allow for an independent inquiry to protect the integrity of football and of FIFA.

Instead, he is contemptuously going ahead with his plans to perpetuate himself in power. Guilty of all these charges or not, Sepp Blatter has had his time, served football well but must now go. If he does not do so voluntarily and with dignity, he should be stopped by all means and all costs from contesting the 2015 elections, period. The world has had enough of the shenanigans.

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Meanwhile, the bad news is that he has kick-started his campaign. His foot soldiers are already knocking on the doors of the most vulnerable of his supporters, the impoverished army of African football federation presidents. They are, as usual, being tempted with offers of membership of committees and subcommittees to vote for him.

Africa Unite

Blatter helped bring the World Cup to Africa. For that he has our respect, but the love affair has turned sour. Despite his extreme age and that he was clearly ailing the continent’s greatest hero, Nelson Mandela was pressured to attend football events for Africaʼs World Cup. Following Madibaʼs passing Blatter delivered the final insult.

Let me remind Africa that this is the man that disrespected Mandela. One day after Mandela died in December 2013, during a FIFA event for the 2014 World Cup, Blatter rudely interrupted a one-minute silence called for Mandela after only 11 seconds. It was preposterous. So infuriated were some people that they vowed to do everything to stop him from returning as FIFA President should he dare to run again in 2015.

That time has come. All of Africa must rise up now and say no to Blatter. Since Sepp Blatter, has the audacity to seek to perpetuate himself in office, we the people also have the temerity to say no to another 4 years of his dictatorship. That’s precisely why Blatter must be stopped, now.

1 Ado was the Vice-President of the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) and President of the Somali Football Association at the time. He claimed that he had been offered $100,000 to vote for Blatter and that others had queued up to take their money.

Stand Down Sepp

by Segun Odegbami © Segun Odegbami )November 12th 2014

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The Malaise

Despite agreeing that his fourth term would be his last Sepp Blatter has announced that he wants to run for a fifth as President of FIFA. Mr Blatter, please step aside. The thought of Blatterʼ decision just leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Whoever knows Blatter well should advise him to shelve the idea for the good of the game. If he truly loves football the way he professes he does, he should step aside and halt this epidemic of remaining in power for ever.

What more does he want to do and accomplish that he has not done and achieved in the long ‘centuries’ of his reign? What more does he want? What? What?

Unwelcome Trends

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He will only be further spreading the disease of self-perpetuation in office and continuing a dangerous trend that has already consumed and destroyed the fabric of football administration in Africa, and, particularly, Nigeria.

When you wonder where those who choose to attempt to perpetuate themselves in the leadership of football derive their example and inspiration from, look no further than FIFA and CAF. Since Blatter will obviously not voluntarily surrender power, the world of football must rise up now and kill the cancer of his dictatorship! No one ever voluntarily surrenders power!

No one is also indispensable, None! Blatter does not have the monopoly of knowledge or experience, or even love for the game of football. Football can surely do with some new ideas, new faces and new thinking about its future. Itʼs overdue.

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Hail The New President

by Segun Odegbami © Segun Odegbami (October 2nd 

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Amaju Pinnick Steps into the Storm

I was in Ghana early this week when the elections for the Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation took place. From what I gather there are still a few pending issues that must be resolved before final peace, if there will ever be such a thing in Nigerian football, can be achieved.

But first let me join Sepp Blatter and all other well wishers that have sent congratulatory messages to Amaju Pinnick in wishing him well in his reign as President of the Nigeria Football Association (Federation). It was no mean feat to emerge as President at the congress that was held on September 30 despite a court order that I am told directed it not to hold, as it was against a FIFA advise that the congress be held.

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The Cycle

The important thing for now is that, in spite of the faults of the electoral process that I pointed out previously, the elections came and went and a new Executive Committee has emerged. That ‘game’ is over. Despite the protestations, Amaju Pinnick will govern for the next 4 years.

After that, unless that term is used to right all the wrongs of the present, the crisis that almost consumed the country’s football will repeat itself again. You do not plant an orange and expect to reap an apple. I guarantee you, as I did in 2010, that in 4 years time, we shall go through this same cycle again, unless things change.

Without question, Pinnick deserves his victory considering his opponents. He was helped by a whole lot of other factors like where the congress was held: the political party the State belongs to, the previous zonal imbalance of power in Nigerian football and the influence of the Delta State governor and his relationship with the highest level of power in Nigeria. All were great influences on the final result.

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Without going into the details, all the other contestants should have known that for as long as the elections took place in Delta State – one of the contestants was from there – and the incumbent President was not contesting the elections this time, the chances of stopping the hurtling Amaju Pinnick train was almost impossible. That’s the nature of elections here in Nigeria. And there will be more to come.

Pinnick was the Chairman of the Football Association of Delta State – he now has to relinquish that position. That means there must be an election to determine his successor. There will also be an election for the position Executive Chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission – Pinnick must also give up tat position to remove any suggestion of ‘government interference’ that may haunt him in his relationship with FIFA. Nevertheless, Pinnick has added yet another feather to his already bulging portfolio of political achievements and offices. However, he faces huge challenges.

The Challenges Amaju Pinnick Must Conquer

At things now stand, Pinnick comes to office with his hands full of serious and, sometimes, complicated issues he has to deal with first. He will need all his wits: human relations and acute political, legal and administrative skills, to successfully manoeuvre through the minefields that lie ahead.

Somehow, he would have to find a way to stop the challenges still in court. Unless, there is a political intervention at a high level, and the courts agree to bend over backwards to allow disregard of their decisions to go unpunished, Pinnick will face a huge challenge. There is nothing new there, as it has happened previously and the last executive got away with it for the 4 years of their tenure. Pinnick may soon find that the simple decision of a high court judge in Jos, who may not even know anything about the game of football, could develop into a cancer that would make life extremely difficult for the new committee. But there are other problems too.

Besides Giwa – the football club in Jos at the centre of the problem with FIFA – there are still other aggrieved members of the last executive committee that appear to have now lost out in the battle of the last election. They are also stakeholders at different levels of Nigerian football and their grievances will just not disappear simply because Sepp Blatter has congratulated Amaju Pinnick. Far from it, he would have to appease them somehow and readmit them into the fold for him to be able to sleep with both eyes shut!

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Furthermore, he would have to take a firm stand, for good or for worse, on who has the rights to manage the affairs of the Nigerian Premier League – a situation that is confounding to everyone. The architects of that body, which is also known as the League Management Committee (LMC) and the NFF members appear to be on a collision course. Pinnick will have to resolve a situation that is unknown in the statutes of Nigerian football, while needing to hold on to the most priced possession of the members of the NFF – the Premier League. He will have to do this despite facing strong opposition. I foresee a grave crisis looming over this.

Even this is not all that Pinnick will face. There will be other issues too, including that of the future of the current coach of the Super-Eagles Stephen Keshi. I foresee a big battle of egos between Pinnick and Keshi, who will have to decide whether to fire the African Cup of Nations winning coach or retain him. The next set of matches will determine how that plays out in the beginning of what could be a turbulent relationship.

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Halting the Repetitive Cycle

Finally, I believe that unless the statutes of the Nigeria Football Federation are amended to accommodate all stakeholders on the basis of equal representation, as directed by FIFA years ago in their letter to the board headed by Sani Lulu, and are designed in such a way that every election is held with all contestants on a level playing field, and is not driven by vaulting ambition that introduces special rules from outside the statutes, the future is depressingly certain. In 4 years time Nigerians should expect a repeat of what we have all just experienced.

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Meanwhile, once again, I wish Amaju Pinnick and the rest of his Executive Committee members the best of luck in their future struggles. They will need it. Congratulations Amaju!

 

Roller-Coaster

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (September 17th 2014)

The Prodigal

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Suspended indefinitely by the Ghanaian Football Federation after an altercation with the Black Starsʼ coach James Kwesi Appiah that saw him sent home from the World Cup, Schalke04ʼs German-born international Kevin-Prince Boateng must wonder whether it was worth reversing his decision to retire from international football and whether he made the right decision pledging his allegiance to the Stars rather than Germany.

Boateng was a former German youth international left Brasil early. Meanwhile his half-brother Jérôme was part of Germanyʼs World Cup winning team. The brothers have faced each other in World Cup matches twice. Four years ago Kevin was a hate figure in Germany when a mistimed tackle on Michael Ballack put the then German captain out of the World Cup. Boateng apologised to Ballack, but criticised both the German FA and national team manager Joachim Lõw. Ballackʼs international career ended controversially.

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Uncompromising

Boatengʼs disciplinary record has been troublesome, but the box to box midfielder deserves credit too. He moved to AC Milan in 2010 and made headlines for all the right reasons. Within 14 minutes of coming on as a substitute against Lecce, he had bagged a hat-trick, only the second by a substitute in Serie A

He also led the five main leagues in sendings off in 2012-2013 averaging one every six games. before deciding to leave Italy for Germany and Schalke 04. Boateng decided to change his international allegiance from Germany to Ghana. It was approved in May 2010, causing him to miss the Black Starsʼ run to the final of the African Cup of Nations in Angola.

In November 2011 he retired from international football, citing the effect of long distance travel. He was just 24 and once again missed the African Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and also South Africa in 2012 and 2013. He played in two World Cu campaigns, but his indefinite suspension suggests that he will never grace Africaʼs top competition – the next edition takes place in Morocco next year.

Uncompromising on the pitch Boateng proved himself an implacable opponent of racism too. During Italyʼs mid season break in January 2013, Pro-Patria, then in Italyʼs fourth tier played against AC Milan. Their fans racially abused Boateng who booted the ball into the stands and walked off the pitch in protest, followed by his team-mates. While some criticised him for walking off the pitch other praised his stand. Clarence Seedorf, then playing for Botafogo in Brasil thought Boatengʼs reaction played into the hands of racists.

They should just be identified and kicked out of the stadium,” Seedorf said. “Leave the 90% that were enjoying the match and finish the game. If Boateng was able to identify the whole corner, you just kick the whole corner out, That is how I think it should be handled Walking away? Yes, you send a signal. But this has happened more than once and I donʼt think it really changes all that much. We are just empowering that little group with their behaviour to make this mess”.

Among those who took to Twitter to support Boateng were Rio Ferdinand, Vincent Kompany and Patrick Vieira. “If the stories about KPB walking off the pitch with teammateʼs (sic) after being racially abused are true, fair play to him..well done #UefaStandUp”, Ferdinand said at the time.

Manchester City captain Kompany fully supported both Boateng and his then club. “Act of racism against Boateng during Milanʼs friendly” Kompany tweeted. “How about becoming extremely intolerant towards racist idiots”? UEFA has adopted penalties for racist conduct as did FIFA, but the problem persists despite close calls to a walk off previously – notably Samuel Etoʼo and Marc Zoro.

They need to be told I can only salute Milanʼs decision to leave the pitch”, Kompany tweeted. “Also noted that the majority of the fans were completely supportive of the players”.

Vieira, working with Manchester Cityʼs youth structure at the time, which he retains despite his subsequent promotion to reserve team manager, was vociferous in his support of Boateng. “It was brave of Kevin Prince Boateng to do what he did today, and it was the right thing”, Vieira said on Twitter. “We need to stand up and stand together. Well done”.

Boateng was appointed to FIFAʼs Anti-Discrimination Task Force under the CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb. He presented his proposals earlier this year. Boateng also became an ambassador for the United Nations against racism in March 2013. He told FIFA President Sepp Blatter that he recognised that he was wrong to walk off the pitch, but that strong action needed to be taken.

Welcome

Last season Boateng completed the most dribbles in the top five European leagues. He is now an integral part of Schalkeʼs plans. Ghanaʼs decision to dispense with his services is the German clubʼs gain. Tonight he returns to England for his clubʼs opening fixture in the Championʼs League against Chelsea, weeks after playing a friendly against his former club Tottenham Hotspur.

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He was given a warm reception by Spurs fans. “Obviously itʼs a mark of respect and I think Kevin obviously did a very good job here”, Tottenham Hotspurʼs German international Lewis Holtby said. “Otherwise the reception wouldnʼt have been that good. I think itʼs good for him and itʼs good to see Tottenham fans being so positive”.

In the absence of Schalkeʼs captain the World Cup-winning German defender Benedikt Hõwedes, the responsibility on Boateng is even higher. “Heʼs a great player, a great personality, so heʼs very important for us and we are very happy that heʼs in our team”, Swiss international Tranquillo Barnetta told us.

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Africa Gets Ready (Part One) Rotation – Archive

Editorʼs Note:

We published this series of articles five years ago. We think they are still relevant, so we are republishing them now.

Derek Miller

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By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (November 27th 2009)

Despair

There are only a few short months to go before South Africa prepares to welcome football’s élite to the first World Cup on African soil. The Chief Executive Officer of the Local Organising Committee of South Africa’s World Cup Dr Danny Jordaan worked hard to bring the tournament to Africa. He was involved in the bid for the 2006 World Cup, which controversially failed when the late Charles Dempsey, Oceania’s representative, ignored the instructions of his confederation and abstained rather than support South Africa’s bid, which failed by one vote.

Dr Jordaan granted Empower-Sport Magazine an exclusive interview, during which he recalled those hard times. “Well of course it was a huge disappointment”, he said. “It was a technical aberration at that World Cup. South Africa alongside Germany was the two countries best placed to host the World Cup. I think England had tried, but it came down to Germany and South Africa and therefore we had a lot of confidence, but when we lost it was a huge disappointment, but we understood that that was a setback”.

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Elation

After the disappointment, they dusted themselves off and set about turning despair to elation. They set about ensuring that next time their bid would succeed. “We must pursue the ideal that Africa must host the World Cup because now it would be over a hundred years since FIFA was established in 1904 and Africa also had the right to host this event, so we prepared for 2010”, Jordaan said.

He gets a lot of criticism, much of it deserved in the wake of corruption scandals, but some of the good Sepp Blatter did gets washed away as a result. “I think one must acknowledge the support of the President Sepp Blatter in supporting the African cause in making sure that the World Cup will eventually be hosted on the African continent”, Jordaan said and he was right.

FIFA introduced the rotation policy to ensure that Africa got its chance and South Africa emerged victorious. Hosting the tournament was part of Jordaan’s vision to promote his country on the world stage.

It was something that we wanted to do because after 1994 there was elections”, said Jordaan. “In 1990 [Nelson] Mandela walked out of prison. ‘94 we had our first democratic elections and one of the things that we had to make sure of is that we must not be forgotten by the international community – rather that South Africa must be discussed at the dinner tables, the lunch tables of the big business companies and I believe that our aim must be to be discussed at every dinner table and coffee table of the world”.

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Bathwater and Babies – Archive

Editorʼs Note:

These articles were published soon after FIFA announced that the rotation policy that FIFA had introduced to take the World Cup around the world, at the instigation of Sepp Blatter, would be scrapped due to an uncompetitive bid that gave the current World Cup to Brasil. The consequences of that affect Africaʼs chances of hosting the World Cup again. Consequently, we think it appropriate to publish them again.

Derek Miller

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (Updated June 28th 2014)

Couple Posing on the Stairs

Bathwater

FIFA was faced with a stark choice after COMNEBOL had flouted the rules to allow an uncompetitive bid that resulted in Brasil being the sole bid to host the 2014 World Cup after the rotation policy had ensured that the World Cup went to Africa. There were sound reasons for COMNEBOL members refusing to bid and there were no corrupt practices associated with the bidding process.

The enemies of rotation circled their prey. COMNEBOL had breached the rules by not having a competitive bid. What a disgrace? Stiff punishment was of course required. No doubt COMNEBOL would lose its next turn, perhaps two. Er, no. It would not be allowed to bid for the next World Cup. Well that should bring the reprobates into line!

Christ the Redeemer

The fact that COMNEBOL members could not bid for 2018 anyway due to rotation seems to have escaped FIFAʼs notice. The fact that it would not be their turn again for quite a while due to the rotation system anyway also seems to have escaped FIFAʼs notice. And the fact that COMNEBOL members, bar Brasil, had demonstrated that they did not want the tournament this time seems to have passed by unnoticed.

COMNEBOL and UEFA did not like the rotation system anyway. They wanted to get rid of it and they succeeded by COMNEBOL flouting the rules and then got what they wanted as a reward. Surely stiff deterrent punishment was required. What could grab its attention? Obviously, the return to a system that rewarded corrupt practices and one that allows COMNEBOL members to bid to host the World Cup again earlier than under the rotation system would deter such abuses of the system.

Not only has FIFA kept the bathwater, it has retrieved the sewage of the old system and thrown the babies out too.

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Babies

Rotation gave other confederations a chance. Africa deserved a World Cup. Corrupt practices denied it the 2006 World Cup. Rotation came and brought the competition to Africa. Rotation went and back came the dubious practices and accusations of corruption, some of which proved true. But there was no reason for the return to the trough process of deciding who would host the World Cup.

The bidding process that brought the World Cup to Russia and Qatar are mired in corruption allegations. The whole process may have to be repeated. Can FIFA really not see that the system it retrieved is infinitely worse than rotation and that it has brought the whole process into utter disrepute?

Back to Joburg 4

Revamped Rotation

The South American confederation is always going to be a problem because there are only ten countries in that confederation anyway. Realistically only Argentina and Brasil are going to have the resources to host it on their own for the time-being, so it is always going to be like that and obviously so.

There was never going to be a competitive bid from that continent in the current climate – it was pretty bad then as well. “It’s the same argument people raised against Africa,” the CEO of the last World Cup, Dr Danny Jordaan, told us. “We are then arguing why. They are saying that rotation is not a viable policy in the long term.”

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But why not? It just needed a tweak and it would not only be viable, but help make the game global in the truest sense and give bidders from the various confederations the World Cup sooner. It could also control the rampant corrupt practices associated with the bidding processes that followed the end of rotation.

If CONCACAF and the South American Confederation were combined as one region for the purposes of rotation and Oceania added to Asia for another with Africa and Europe on their own the tournament could be rotated between the four regions and have competitive bids as well. That would mean that the various regions get it sooner and as long term policy it would achieve FIFAʼs aims too.

Wouldnʼt that be a better way and a fairer way of spreading the world cup around the globe and controlling the opportunities for corrupt practices? So why hasnʼt this happened? Babies and bathwater, perhaps?

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