THE BLOG

Fifa - A Stain on the Beautiful Game

17/06/2014 17:03 BST | Updated 17/08/2014 10:59 BST

It is the old boy's club which has stood strong through two World Wars; the smell of expensive whisky and cigar smoke wafting underneath its doors for over a century.

At the head of the table, a Godfather-like figure sits in a comfortable leather chair, smugly surveying the room and dreaming of world domination, as those around him back slap and back hand their way into favour.

This is not the opening scene to a Hollywood gangster movie. It is just another day at Fifa HQ - the smoke shop of the organisation built upon decades of bribery, bungs and corruption.

The same body in charge of our global game; long accused of cultivating a culture of nothing but dodgy dealings and cover ups.

The same body currently being suffocated by the latest revelations to surface around its decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Following an arduous investigation by the British media, it has been alleged that a number of senior figures within Fifa accepted cash in return for their vote during the selection process - and the findings have sent shockwaves through the whole sport.

In truth though, the findings are no real surprise. Instead, they only serve to confirm what many football fans have suspected for years - and it is a sad truth that the bosses of our game have, for far too long, shown nothing but utter contempt for its supporters.

Many of the claims centre around the influence of Mohammad Bin Hammam, a Qatari national working within the organisation, and it has been revealed that the controversial choice to award the Arab country with the greatest tournament on earth may well have been powered by hidden, and underhand, motives.

At the top of the criminal cabal, Sepp Blatter has - somewhat predictably - moved quickly to distance himself from the allegations, and despite a round of increasingly vociferous calls for his resignation in light of the disgraceful findings, he has so far refused to accept any of the criticism being roundly fired towards him.

The smug Swiss man is notoriously stubborn, but his arrogant announcement last week that he plans on running for President for a fifth time, regardless, is astounding even by his standards.

Indeed, just this week, Uefa bigwig Lennart Johansson joined the chorus of boo-boys baying for Blatter's blood - and, against a backdrop of dirt, dismay and disgrace, it is high time for a complete overhaul at Fifa.

The culture of the organisation is archaic and internal, and has been for years; but I sense that, for the first time, there is a growing feeling that enough is enough within the sport. There could finally be a sea change on the horizon.

And, let's be honest, this is not the first time that they have found themselves drowning in an unforgiving ocean of controversy, corruption and lies. Blatter and co have been sailing choppy waters for a while now.

Since taking control back in 1998, the President has ambled from ill thought-out decision to idiotic outburst - and the fact that he has been re-elected on a hat-trick of occasions since his initial inauguration sums up the closed mentality and narrow mindedness of the outfit that he represents.

On the face of it, the length of his tenure is an impressive record, but last time he won the vote he was the only candidate who stood for the role - so let's reserve our congratulations for now.

Frankly though, his cringe-worthy performance over the last couple of weeks have seen his reputation reach new lows, and his insistence that the British media is 'racist', as justification for their in-depth investigation into the Qatar decision, was nothing more than the last act of a desperate man.

Not only that, but it seriously undermines the excellent efforts being made by all parties to combat actual, bonafide racist abuse within the game.

It is, quite simply, an unforgivable outburst, underlining that the football world must stop these power-hungry and morally-deficient figures from wreaking their havoc upon our global game.

I actually find it incredible that, despite this recent controversy, Blatter and his band of merry-men still sit omnipotent and all-powerful at the top of the sport as the World Cup plays out in Brazil - and I do worry that the football world lacks the appetite, strength and motivation to take a stand against these crooks.

As the most popular sport in the world, not to mention a big, big business which generates trillions of pounds every year, football can ill-afford this kind of drama and muck-spreading, and Fifa severely risks dragging the game into further disrepute unless the changes are rung - and quickly.

But Blatter's refusal to do the honourable thing only evidences just how selfishly single-minded he has become, and as he desperately tries to wriggle out of the whole disgusting debacle, he will perhaps be encouraged by the manner in which the story has been swept under the carpet by proceedings on the pitch.

We cannot allow the glitz and glamour, and the goals and gaffes, over in Brazil, to detract from the quest for truth. That would be letting Blatter and his band off the hook much too easily.

There have been, perhaps inevitably, claims that the findings are the result of an English vendetta against Qatar, or Fifa. The Three Lions would certainly have reason to feel hard done to, considering that it was their bid which was sidelined in favour of the Arab state.

But this is not about partisan patriotism. It is simply about parity - and purity.

Whilst the headlines have been met with an outpouring of anger, frustration and disappointment, I feel that there is an important distinction to be made - Qatar is not to blame for this mess.

Instead, it is the whole selection process - from top to bottom - which is flawed. Under the current arrangement, Fifa encourages expensive and time-consuming pantomime bids, and decisions are made under no regulation, and in a hushed and secretive manner.

It's actually pretty incredible that such an important organisation still operates in that bumbling and amateurish manner - and the system needs a complete overhaul if Fifa is to stand any chance of rebuilding the trust that it has broken with this latest blatant betrayal.

Of course, should Blatter actually bow to pressure and leave his post, the problem is finding a replacement who possesses both the vision and virtue to lead a global game into the 21st century.

For instance, current Uefa boss Michel Platini - one of the best players in the world during the 1980s - has already thrown his hat into the ring, certainly possesses an on the pitch reputation worthy of respect, but his media and decision-making skills have been far from perfect during his time in charge.

Indeed, international friendly leagues, spreading the 2020 European Championships across the continent, and Financial Fair Play, are all brainless and baseless schemes reminiscent of Blatter in his pomp, and suggest that the Frenchman is not exactly in touch with the majority either.

One thing is clear though. Whoever does find themselves in the hot seat next has a serious clean up operation on their hands, and will have their work cut out to once again establish the trust so often obliterated by the nefarious regime at the helm of late.

The changing face of our game currently bears some very ugly scars - and until we wrestle back control from the current representatives of this odious organisation, it will never be quite as beautiful as it once was.