Following last week’s Zurich debacle, and having got fed up with seeing the smug face of Sepp Blatter everywhere, I wanted to find out how the FIFA President is elected. Given the murky way in which the World Cup hosts are decided, I’d rather expected it to be conducted in secret, with very little accountability.
And I was right.
First, the ballot is secret. That’s right, zero transparency here. A potential candidate must be nominated for the position by a member at least two months prior to the FIFA Congress. (Article 24 of the FIFA Statues) In 2011, the Congress will take place in Zurich, which is at least handy if any of the ExCo want to withdraw any cash from the highly principled Swiss banks. In the first round of presidential voting, a candidate must secure 2/3 of the vote to be declared the winner. In any subsequent vote, a simple majority will suffice. Much as in the world cup vote, the candidate with the fewest votes in each round will be eliminated from the proceedings, until finally there are simply two candidates remaining, one of whom will win while the other one goes home and complains to his mother. At the most recent election, Blatter won unopposed, which surely can only demonstrate how clueless the organization truly is.
With this explained, it is probably a good idea to briefly examine why a President other than Joseph S. Blatter should be crowned (bad word, but go with me) next summer. For 18 years Blatter has effectively been king of the castle (see?), with very little opposition, and his reign has been tainted with accusations of favoritism, corruption and a disrespect for some parts of the game (especially the Women’s game). While I commend Mr. Blatter for taking steps to prevent the ladies from replacing suspender belts with pantyhose (as President of the World Society of Friends for Suspenders in the early Seventies), the world has moved on, and so his exhortations that women players should wear tighter shorts and low-cut jerseys to encourage more spectators are less welcome.
So the time has surely come for some fresh blood. Somebody who actually enjoys watching football. Somebody who has played at a high level*. Somebody who is under the age of 70.
Basically, people, I’m talking about me. Stop sniggering in the back.
I would like to use Match Fit USA to formally announce my intention to run for the position of FIFA President at the forthcoming FIFA World Congress, taking place in 2011 – complete with really large lunches and (thanks to our Qatari sponsors) gold plated toilet seats.
It’s vitally important that we, the global soccer community, take every step possible to ensure that all of the tenets of FIFA are vigorously defended. To that end, I have come up with a ten-point plan designed to promote my own credentials as a forward-thinking potential President. I trust that you will lobby your national football association to nominate me in the new year. In no particular order…except that I’ve numbered them;
- Rename the organization to “Federation of International Football Federations”. Having the name in French isn’t fooling anybody, and anyway most of the business is already conducted in English. Plus, the acronym would remain the same, so we wouldn’t even have to get new notepaper.
- The organization has been plagued with accusations of impropriety – not only are most of the ExCo apparently on the take but FIFA also manages not to get taxed on the money it makes out of tournaments. This is wrong – therefore I propose moving the headquarters away from the tax haven/soccer wasteland of Switzerland to somewhere earthier, with a greater football tradition, and somewhere that really needs the tax revenue. Yes, I’m talking about Bolton, England, home to a soccer club that was founded in 1894, and currently has a squad comprised of 15 different nationalities (including the USA’s very own Stuart Holden). It is also quite close to two international airports, in Liverpool and Manchester.
- Any member, employee or representative of FIFA who is found to be acting in an amoral or illegal manner – including but not limited to behavior such as; accepting bribes, speaking to Sepp Blatter or supporting LA Galaxy – will be defenestrated from the new 1oth floor office. Think of it as Darwinism in action. Or intelligent design in action, if you must.
- I will limit World Cup bidding to only those countries which have the majority of facilities (stadia, transport, hotels) already in place. It’s fine if you want to repaint a few of the grounds, but expecting us to be sanguine about you wanting to build a dozen stadia specifically for the tournament is asking a heck of a lot, especially given the palpitations South Africa gave us for the last 3 years. If you’re a country without these facilities, make sure you have them before you come running to us. As that guy said in Field of Dreams – build it, and they will come.
- Free cookies for everybody who votes for me!
- Any and all voting conducted by/for FIFA will be open and transparent. During a voting session, members’ votes will be confidential, but once the voting procedure has been completed, the votes that were recorded for each member (in each round) will be made freely available.
- The ExCo will be abolished and each member will have 1 vote to cast in every election and voting procedure. This is designed to remove the cabal of the Executive Committee and place the power back into the hands of the Member Associations.
- Did I mention the cookies?
- Any World Cup bid that brings any of the following individuals to the final presentation will be automatically removed from contention: A sitting head of state, a former head of state, a member of the Royal Family, an individual who has been paid to appear (either an actor or a former footballer/coach), or anybody with a name that rhymes with ‘Mulin Mulati’. Currently active players are fine as long as they represent the same country for which they play/have played international soccer.
- I will actively encourage investigations from the media because I think that world organizations have a responsibility to be open about their endeavors and initiatives. This is especially true when the organization concerned claims “non-profit” designation and is the governing body of the world’s most popular game. Football/soccer has an amazing ability to entertain, unite, and inspire, but when the people at the top are considered to be nothing more than opportunistic charlatans, that image is severely damaged.
So there you have it. A vote for me is a vote for change. But mostly it’s a vote for me.
*I played on Dartmoor once, it was at least 1,500 feet above sea level. That’s pretty high.