International - Written by on Sunday, May 31, 2015 2:28 - 1 Comment

Opinion: UEFA and all its members should boycott the World Cup

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footballA cynic might conclude that the reason why no country has previously taken steps to investigate and prosecute allegations of corruption surrounding FIFA is simply because FIFA is seen as too big and too many of those who might sanction action have vested interests.

We would never say such a thing.


It is hard to imagine another situation where allegations of the sort which have swirled around FIFA, and which manifested in the arrests and US indictments last week, would fail to move the needle of governments around the world for so long.

Of course, soccer is not the no. 1 sport in the US.

But FIFA is widely perceived to be a joke by significant portions of the planet outside of the US as a result of the stories which continue to engulf it.

Against that backdrop those sponsors who have withdrawn from their commercial dealings with FIFA are to be applauded.  Some big names pulled out earlier this year.

Following the arrests this week, other household name FIFA global sponsors have expressed their concern though stopped short of terminating their relationship with FIFA.

At the time of writing commentators speculate that UEFA and its members could boycott the World Cup but this is by no means certain.


No doubt plenty of time will be spent debating the pro’s and cons of what to do by sponsors and UEFA members alike.

No doubt it is legally complicated.

In our experience answers become clearer when the question is distilled into one simple question.

What does doing the right thing look like?

Against that backdrop the answer is, to us at least, staggeringly simple.

Doing the right thing looks to us like taking a stand to try to get FIFA to change.

UEFA should boycott.

Without UEFA and its members the World Cup simply isn’t the World Cup any more.

And that might just force FIFA to change.

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David Lawler
Jun 2, 2015 0:14

There is clearly more to FIFA than the world cup. FIFA’s main role is ensuring the smooth running of football on a global scale. It unifies the game’s laws across all international competitions, arbitrates disputes and punishes rule breakers. Without FIFA, or something doing the same job, there would be a chaotic situation, and like American Football, national laws would start to deviate.

Global football requires more than scheduling a few football matches, which, as has been pointed out, (albeit from the other side of the pond) “A junior-high student could do that in Microsoft Excel”. A global organisation is needed to manage international football’s commercial side, negotiating and managing lucrative sponsorship, TV rights, and gaming agreements, and divvying up the spoils… after all, this is a professional game, where participants want paying.

Without FIFA, or something very similar, international football wouldn’t exist in a professional form.
We can’t lose sight of the fact that UEFA is an integral part of FIFA. Its members are first and foremost members of FIFA. Platini, UEFA’s president, is vice-president of FIFA. UEFA’s members could of course break FIFA rules by refusing to compete in its tournaments, but the breakup of FIFA Version-1 would inevitably follow. To be followed by what…. FIFA Version-2? Why would this turn out any better?
[Perhaps UEFA could join the tournament held last year in Sweden called the Conifa World Cup, played by the few national teams not recognized by FIFA? The participants comprised unrecognized states, ethnic groups, islands and conflict zones, including the footballing legends of Iraqi Kurdistan; Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Darfur were there, playing their first game on a grass pitch, but they unfortunately lost it 20-0.]

As with all international organisations, FIFA is intensely political, as well as awash with money. This creates the perfect storm in terms of governance challenges, but I think FIFA Mark-1 is capable of being transformed. It needs strong leadership (not there yet), with transparency and accountability. These, and detailed oversight and continual review by stakeholders is capable of fixing most of what is wrong. The grass is not always greener….

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