Unopposed in the FIFA presidential election, Joseph Sepp Blatter will become, for a fourth term, FIFA’s President. The international federation of football has been sorting itself out ever since the recent Mohamed Bin Hammam bribe scandal that put at least 10 officials under investigation, led to the resignation of others and forced the organization to revise its policies. Recently, Blatter has come under criticism by many football players for his remarks on racism that went against FIFA’s policy of zero tolerance for racism in the international world of football.
Blatter stated in an interview held by CNN’s World Sport that “there is no racism. There is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or gesture which is not the correct one.”
He commented that racism shown on the playing field could be solved by shaking hands simply because “we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.”
African footballers and others, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, were surprised at Blatter’s comments, which he meekly gave a semblance of an apology for later. A few football players are threatening to boycott their next international matches. Some are even calling for the newly re-elected president to resign.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Bin Hammam who continues to insist his innocence is still under a permanent ban from all football related activities for allegedly attempting to bribe the entirety of the Caribbean Football Union and others in the CONCACAF.
Hammam will be going to the Court of Sport Arbitration to argue his case.
The scandal also encompassed an alleged plot by corrupted officials to somehow fix World Cup matches in 2018 and 2022 in exchange for large sums of money.
Chuck Blazer, who was also investigated by the Ethics Committee after former FBI director Louis Freeh’s agency found suspicious payments numbering in the hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars to Blazer’s offshore accounts, was accused of “conspiracy” by Hammam so that Blatter would be automatically re-elected without any opposition.
Prominent officials like Jack Warner, who was recently the CONCACAF president and Vice President of FIFA resigned in the wake of the ethics probe while at the same time protesting his innocence.
Eight federation presidents from St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guyana and the British Virgin Islands also came under investigation along with 16 other Caribbean football officials.
FIFA committee members Horace Burrell and Colin Klass were suspended, Klass for 26 months and Burrell for six while six other elected officials were also banned temporarily.
Others currently being investigated even include the former prime minister Patrick John of the Dominican Republic and Trinidad’s general secretary Oliver Camps.
Others also included Raymond Guishard, Damien Hughes, Everton Gonsalves, Derrick Gordon, Lionel Haven, Philippe White, Vincent Cassell, and Tandica Hughes.
FIFA stated that the bribe money recovered will be “used for football development programs”. Any future use of the money will be determined by “the ethics committee which is currently examining all the existing possibilities.”
(Cover Photo: Action Images)