Football is currently enduring one of the darkest periods in history following a wide-scale investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption in the sport’s official governing body, FIFA. President Sepp Blatter has come under huge pressure to resign amidst criticism of his leadership during a period in which several key figures have been accused of accepting bribes in return for their vote during the World Cup voting campaigns. Suspicions of corruption, racketeering and fraud date back to the 2010 tournament in South Africa, while there are also considerable doubts over how Russia and Qatar obtained the 2018 and 2022 World Cup rights respectively.
Many fans have been getting excited ahead of the upcoming season by enjoying success off the pitch through football games on Springbok, such as Football Frenzy which offers a progressive jackpot for people to win and strike gold. Checking the latest fixture lists and reading the latest transfer news from the rumour mill are other ways in which football fanatics are preparing themselves and keeping tabs on their favourite team, but their happiness and excitement has been tainted by the controversy that threatens to destroy the beautiful game. The fact that seven men, including vice-president Jeffrey Webb, who work at FIFA’s official headquarters in Switzerland have already been arrested by the Swiss police at the request of the US Justice Department, who are operating the widespread investigation, illustrates the considerable turmoil that led Blatter to shock everyone by resigning from his post.
Although there is speculation that the Frenchman may make a dramatic U-turn despite fierce calls for him to leave immediately and protect football from further turmoil, the African continent have remained firmly behind Blatter. Guinea-Bissau’s FA Chief Nascimento Lopes’ view that the scandal is merely a state conspiracy illustrates the level of backing that Blatter continues to receive from Africa, and it is easy to see why.
Beginning of development programmes
Great presidents are meant to focus on the present and future development of football across the world to ensure that every continent remains functional and is able to feel part of FIFA. Blatter has implemented a substantial number of development programmes across Africa which has allowed young people to enjoy better lives and ensure African countries receive the benefits of being in partnership with a governing body that promotes fairness, equity and equality. Their efforts to promote football has raised billions of dollars from marketing and media avenues, while numerous African countries have seen a considerable boom in the number of people, particularly young boys and girls, taking up the sport. It is therefore no surprise that a large percentage of official FIFA members from Africa and Asia, where Blatter is also an integral figure, voted for the beleaguered president in the recent election to ensure their partnership remained intact.
Money often talks in football, particularly in the modern game with sponsorship and television deals, along with players’ wages, reaching astronomical levels. Investment is always a necessary part in the evolution of football, particularly in countries where the economic climate is not considered strong, so for Blatter to ensure that every African nation (and every other across the world, for that matter) have significant amounts of cash to spend on new infrastructure and facilities has secured strong support for his presidency as a result. Chad are just one of a number of small countries who have greatly benefited from investment from FIFA; not only have they constructed a brand new federation headquarters, technical centre and a number of artificial pitches across the country, Chad also receive regular educational seminars on refereeing, grassroots football and marketing to ensure all aspect of the sport are maintained and improved. This is a repeated feature across the whole of Africa, and although it could be argued that these policies and ethics should always be carried out by FIFA, irrespective of who the President is, Blatter’s impact across Africa has the backing from representatives across the continent.