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EDITORIAL – Football gets the whistle, regrettably


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EDITORIAL – Football gets the whistle, regrettably

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RECENT DISCLOSURES by Sir David Triesman, former chairman of the England Football Association, and head of its failed 2018 bid, should come as no surprise. Allegations of “returns for favours” are not unknown in the world football body FIFA.
Revelations by Lord Triesman that six FIFA officials were allegedly paid large sums to vote for Qatar, according to evidence submitted to a British parliamentary inquiry by the Sunday Times, have shocked the football world.
Qatar 2022 organizers have denied the allegations and some of the officials accused have denied claims of wrongdoing. However, the allegations have left many followers of the game dumbfounded. If the stench of corruption is afflicting the custodians of the game, then there is something rotten with football in the world.
The allegations have made both Russia, the winners of the 2018 bid, and Qatar, 2022, to look bad in the eyes of the world, and questions are now being raised if they genuinely won the bid to host the global football extravaganza.
As FIFA boss Sepp Blatter continues to campaign ahead of the June 1 elections, he needs to set the record straight on how clean his officials are. It is important that he sweeps his house clean before takingon the associations if the football world is to have faith in FIFA.
For argument’s sake, let’s pretend that FIFA picked England, not Russia, last December to host the 2018 World Cup. Would we now be hearing the allegations aired in the British Parliament that the selection process was riddled with impropriety? Hardly!
Not one Englishman would have said a word or given a damn had England been given the prestige of a World Cup. First-hand evidence suggests some FIFA voters seemed receptive to inducements, but this was kept under wraps. 
The boat has been rocked now they have lost their bid. That doesn’t mean the allegations should not be taken seriously because they are coming after the event. But the claims that some FIFA voters angled for money, a knighthood and other favours surely would have had greater impact had they been voiced loudly and sooner. 
Corruption – anywhere, not just in football – thrives when those who know about it don’t blow the whistle when they should. By failing to unmask those who seek bribes, even clean people become complicit. 
So what now? Any FIFA member guilty of impropriety should, of course, be kicked out, and Qatar should, of course, be stripped of the 2022 World Cup if claims are proven. 
Will any of this happen? Blatter, up for re-election on June 1, isn’t willing to vouch for his executive committee colleagues. 
“I cannot say they are all angels or they are all devils,” he says. 
That’s surely not a ringing endorsement. We can only hope the claims will be investigated vigorously and not be swept under the carpet. 

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