• Saturday, December 09, 2023
businessday logo


Why FIFA must save football from ‘Shylocks’

Why FIFA must save football from ‘Shylocks’

…the rot in football fraternity is choking the fun in the game

The rot in football is a vicious cancer found in the players, managers and administrators as well.

FIFA, as the beast we know it to be now, was born in 1974 when Joao Havelange became president.

Sepp Blatter brought in Coca-Cola, and other firms to pay for the development of the game and for sponsoring youth competitions.

That is how football suddenly became a product and many merchants started becoming astonishingly wealthy, taking advantage of the game to the detriment of the fans.

The game of football, ordinarily is meant to be impartial, apolitical and universal, uniting the people every day.

But, the reality is that the game is fast tearing people apart, creating gulfs of mistrust within the circle by virtue of the stakeholders’ insincerity.

Over the years, officials of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) have been caught napping over cases of corrupt practices.

Hence, often the outcome of games are not reflections of what happened in the field of play.

In 2010, during qualifications for the World Cup hosted by South Africa, France striker Thierry Henry’s handled assist broke Irish hearts in Paris, denying Giovanni Trapattoni’s team a spot in World Cup 2010.

This opened the debate over the quality of officiating in football, and the need for officials to desist from aiding cheating in football.

Henry was not the first, and he will not be the last, to take advantage of the trust of officials.

Prior to Henry’s incident, in the 2002, World Cup, in a game between Brazil and Turkey at the group stage, Brazil was leading 2-1 with just minutes left of the game when Rivaldo began to waste time at a corner kick.

Irritated by the delay, Turkish player Hakan Unsal kicked the ball in the Brazilian’s direction, striking him in the knee. Rivaldo went down holding his face, and the referee sent off Unsal despite the linesman standing directly beside the Brazilian when he was hit.

Read also: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Team Facts: Will an African team win it? – by MSport

There are many other instances of bias officiating in football at the expense of the helpless fans. Remember the ‘hand of god’ scenario involving Maradona and England.

At the just concluded FIFA Women’s World Cup allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against the Zambia coach, Bruce Mwape.

Mwape was accused of robbing a player’s breasts after a training session.

At press conferences during the World Cup, Mwape was repeatedly asked about the allegations, which he called “fake” while dismissing suggestions he should resign.

“What are you talking about? I would like to know because there is no way I can retire without reason” he told reporters.

“Maybe your reason is because of what you are reading from the media or from the press, but the truth of the matter should actually come out, not just on rumours.”

As if that was not enough, Luis Rubiales, president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) was also in the news for an alleged immoral act of kissing Jenni Hermoso, a female player on the lips on the presentation stage.

Similarly, Jorge Vilda, the Spain boss was alleged to have grabbed the breast of a female coach during the World Cup final.

Lauren James was seen stamping on the back of Michelle Alozie for out-marking her in the round of 16 game between the Three Lionesses of England, and Super Falcons of Nigeria.

Read also: Qatar conscripts civilians for FIFA World Cup security

FIFA in its true character only suspended James for two matches while in a lesser incident involving Deborah Abiodun, a Nigerian player and a Canadian, Abiodun was issued a red card and suspended for three games.

It is good that FIFA has suspended Luis Rubiales, though provisionally, the issues of Mwape are still pending.

FIFA cannot afford to close its eyes over the murky businesses in the players’ transfer market witnessed every now and then. There is a great need to sanitise, and streamline the transfer market.

Football agency is one loosely regulated business across countries, and it is killing the game.

Besides, the instances of club owners treating players as commodities must be addressed. A good example is in the cases of Benjamin Mendy and Mason Greenwood.

Both were cleared by recognised court of law for their various charges, yet the clubs failed to do the needful by absorbing them and helping them to resurrect their careers.

Clubs are now placing corporate image over and above human beings. FIFA should step in and address this mess or else many ladies will cash on the development to rip-off players.

Moreover, bearing in mind that football is more than just being a sport, it is a source of livelihood, and a way of life, among others; FIFA should take the bull by the horn!