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FIFA probe no witch-hunt


Andi Thornhill

FIFA probe no witch-hunt

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Given the recent decisions taken in the FIFA Ethics Committee’s investigations into bribery allegations against Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials, I am not prepared to say it was a witch-hunt against the grouping.
Anytime you yield to the temptation of cash in life, there is always a chance for guilty verdicts to be returned against you.
This is the fundamental point that has to be made.
We should accept that gifts of sometimes offered in high-profile elections.
Once you take them, there is the expectation that in return you would support the candidate who “greased your hand”.
In essence, then, what happened when Qatar’s FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam came to the region in May bearing gifts wasn’t surprising.
In normal times, such an approach might have been regarded as alright, if we are to believe that corruption was a big part of FIFA which continually turned a blind eye to suspicious actions of some of its members in the past.
Matters that demanded greater scrutiny would either be swept under the carpet or the offender would be given a slap on the wrist.
After, it would be business as usual.
Alas, the allocation of the World Cup tournaments for 2018 and 2022 raised many questions especially in the case of Qatar, a little known Middle Eastern outpost in footballing circles, which won the right to host in 2022.
How could it win bids over much more established powers like the United States and Japan, both former hosts?
A sound and reasonable argument could be that the world’s governing body for football was keen on giving less established countries the right to host the games like South Africa did last year.
Even so, many didn’t buy the argument in relation to Qatar and so the digging for dirt began in earnest.
In light of what has transpired, we would conclude that quite a bit was unearthed.
FIFA was forced to take action and begin house cleaning in the face of criticism from people in and outside of football and the obvious concerns from sponsors worried about the harm any fallout corrupt practices would have on their corporate image.
So once the effort to purge the organisation began, we saw the fall of some who had been regarded previously as untouchables and others who may have worked their way up to that elite group once they held on to the right coat tails.
It was the timing of the FIFA purge that caught some Caribbean officials offside.  
Even so, it is the perception of Third World jurisdictions that may have been at the genesis of what took place in Trinidad.
We are perceived as being hand-to-mouth and susceptible to being bought at any price.
We must counter this perception by stating emphatically that our dignity won’t be bought.
Nobody wants to be a person of straw but at the same time you shouldn’t compromise your integrity to assist others in achieving their expedient needs.
This could very well be the main lesson to be learned from the FIFA exposé as it relates to Caribbean officials.
What’s the price of a vote compared to the value of your birthright?
Perhaps there are some who have the answer.
With Jack Warner resigning from football  and others like Horace Burrell and Colin Klass temporarily sidelined, it is the perfect time for a new breed of administrators to step forward and put the Caribbean game back on the ball.
It might be hard at first, but still it is never too late for a shower of rain.

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