By Aritra Mukherjee:
The quality of football has been excellent in this world cup and whilst the group stages belonged to the strikers, the knockout stages saw some fantastic saves from the keepers and excellent defending. However, today I will address an issue that has been less talked about in the public domain when it comes to FIFA, and that is ‘corruption’ and ‘match-fixing’. Indians are no newbies to these concepts as we see mass corruption and match-fixing are the latest ‘cool’ trend in cricket. However, the same problem grips the football world too. This cancer rots away the camaraderie and dignity of this beautiful game and its fans till they just give up and hang up their flags.
Recently, a report came out alleging the Cameroon team of match-fixing after their 4-0 loss against Croatia, and their appalling show in the group stages only reinforced the followers to believe such was the case. The main accused is an ex-bookmaker, Perumal has cited the presence of ‘7 bad apples’ in the Cameroon squad. The allegations are very serious and if they are correct, then the game and the millions of fans have suffered as their faith and energy was not respected.
This is not the first time that such allegations have emerged. In 2011, six match officials were banned for offering 7 penalties in 2 games! Furthermore, another official was held responsible for offering a very controversial penalty kick to Argentina at the 8th minute of stoppage time (90 +8). The case is very serious because it involves referees being corrupt. Ergo, the protector of the game is itself engaging in actions that destroys its nature. Furthermore, almost around 70 countries have engaged in match-fixing activities and I believe the numbers are lowered so that the public doesn’t lose complete faith and give up on this game. Now, I will cite the most famous example of match-fixing and corruption in the history of this game and that team is Juventus, yes you heard it right. The Old Lady of Italian football engaged in mass match-fixing and its manager was equally involved alongside Doni and others. This not only dampened the prospects of the highly coveted Italian Serie A but also stripped the club of its glory which it is desperately trying to regain. Such an act taints a club and shall always remain in history, which its loyal fans constantly need to repress.
Moreover, FIFA, the governing board responsible for fair practices is itself tainted and you can guess how corrupt a body is when a ‘non-profit’ organization has 1 billion dollars in reserve! Simply put, if match-fixing is the lion then FIFA is the ring master who is equally responsible for such malpractices. Recently, Blatter (yes, ‘you-know-who’ of football) said that he wouldn’t compromise on the “Budweiser Bill” (the name fondly given by John Oliver) even though Brazil has a law against drinking alcohol in stadiums as passionate fans may engage in violence post being drunk. Bin Hammam, a former member of the FIFA committee is linked to paying off FIFA to win the bid for Qatar, and is not even part of the Qatari board. Surprise! He has already been banned twice, for life from football due to malpractice. The story doesn’t end here, FIFA seems oblivious to the fact that human slavery is going on in Qatar and yet the dictatorial Blatter doesn’t acknowledge the vast corruption and slavery that FIFA officials are perpetrating and engaging in.
Former Argentina player and legend, Diego Maradona, has come out and lashed FIFA by stating “FIFA is ugly and people need to know it. FIFA today is a multinational that is eating up the ball. Countries can’t do anything against them.” When a player of such high repute lashes out, then it has to be serious. In addition to that, we as Indians must know that AIFF doesn’t have an anti-corruption body which is frankly quite appalling when corruption is the staple of government officials and constructors as a whole. Moreover, I would urge the fans to see beyond the rosy picture of the FIFA World Cup and let us be bothered about what goes in the organization and hope for a clean and fair game. I would like to end on a note that FIFA ought to put up a call to end corruption alongside ‘Say no to racism’, and that should be ‘Say no to corruption’ which should serve as a constant reminder to players to play with dignity and honesty.