FIFA - corruption is the name of this profit game

2 June 2015

The media made a lot of noise after some FIFA (International Federation of Football Associations) officials were arrested in Switzerland. This was following the indictment in the US of 9 FIFA officials and 5 corporate executives, on corruption charges, relating to the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa, the 2014 Brazil World Cup and the coming American Cup in 2016.

But wasn't it all predictable? Hasn't the fact that corruption was rife in FIFA's high spheres been an open secret for many years - which, in fact, was discussed at length by the media whenever a country was to be selected as World Cup host, including allegations of bribes?

The stench of big money

But, so far, world governments have chosen to sit on their hands rather than rock FIFA's boat.

The point is that international football represents an enormous bounty for several western construction and engineering companies. These companies and their local subsidiaries build the gigantic World Cup stadiums, luxury hotels and transport systems, in the host countries. And their shareholders make billions out of this! And, of course, there are the huge profits attached to advertising - sorry, "sponsorship", as they say! According to Herbert Hainer, the CEO of Adidas, the world's largest sports gear company, the profits generated by this "sponsorship" are 20% higher than those generated by "normal" advertising - and he should know!

So, no wonder these companies have been willing to pay very big bribes to get a larger share of the World Cup cake! And no wonder the governments which represent their interests have been reluctant to open FIFA's can of worms.

This is especially true of British governments. After all, they could have stopped this corruption, since many of the bribes were channelled through British Overseas tax havens - the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands, in particular!

But it's not just the corruption of international football that would need to be exposed. It's also the corrupt nature of the Premier League, for instance. Haven't the main clubs, such as Man United, become capitalist companies, quoted on the stock market, with the aim of making as much profit as possible? And what has the Premier League player's £2.3m/yr average salary got to do with football? Not to mention Wayne Rooney's £15m/yr! This may not be corruption in the legal sense of the word, because, in this profit society, it is considered legitimate to make money out of just about anything. But this is definitely a way of corrupting football as a sport!

The profiteers' untold crimes

All football fans here know what profiteering does to football. In particular, it means exorbitantly priced tickets, so that most have to stand outside stadiums to watch the matches of their favourite team on giant screens or watch them at home.

But for the population of the World Cup's hosting countries, the cost of this profiteering is far worse.

In South Africa and Brazil, in particular, the grandiose infrastructure built for the World Cup was paid by the governments - meaning, ultimately, by the population. And this, regardless of the fact that, in both countries, the majority was living - and still lives - in squalid conditions. Today the landscape is populated with "white elephants" (the Cup's stadiums), brand new public transport which is too expensive for most, and unaffordable hotels.

This was why, in both countries, the World Cup sparked off protests in the streets by people who felt - and rightly so - that the enormous sums involved would have been far better spent on providing a decent roof for all. It wasn't for nothing that, in South Africa, protesters summarised their feelings about the World Cup and the way it was organised by wearing a "Fick FUFA" T-shirt!

And what should be said about the cost of the World Cup for the Asian construction workers used and abused by Qatar to build the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup? Not only do they have to work under a bondage system which leaves them with no freedom whatsoever, but on the basis of "normal" casualty rates on Qatari building sites, an estimated 4,000 will pay for the World Cup with their lives!

So, yes, the US courts may well frown on the FIFA officials' corruption - and even jail some of them. But they won't put on trial those who are responsible for the corrupt operation of this profit system - the politicians and capitalists for whom football, like everything else, is just a means of screwing more profits out of the working class and poor - regardless of the cost for them. This is why this profit system is not redeemable. Its corruption will only disappear with the system itself!