IOC cleaned up act but not Fifa

SPORTS TALK WITH JOSEPH ROMANOS

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT -

The In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee and the In­ter­na­tional Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion once vied for the ‘‘hon­our’’ of be­ing the most cor­rupt ma­jor sports or­gan­i­sa­tion in the world.

Not any more. The foot­ballers are win­ning that race de­ci­sively.

In the 1980s and 90s, when Brazil­ian Joao Have­lange ran foot­ball and Spa­niard Juan An­to­nio Sa­ma­ranch the Olympics, the fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­ety was gob-smack­ing.

It ranged from po­lit­i­cal favours and bribery to fraud and back­han­ders and was es­ti­mated to run to bil­lions of dol­lars.

The IOC, whose del­e­gates in­cluded a grasp­ing, cor­rupt group open to any sort of in­duce­ment, faced a wa­ter­shed when the host­ing rights of the 2002 win­ter Olympics went to Salt Lake City.

The scale of the cor­rup­tion then ex­posed was so vast the or­gan­i­sa­tion sim­ply had to clean up its act.

It has largely done so, for ex­am­ple in­tro­duc­ing rules to pre­vent wide­spread cor­rup­tion over host city vot­ing.

The In­ter­na­tional Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (Fifa) has not, how­ever, un­der­gone any sort of cleans­ing.

Have­lange be­stowed ti­tles and money on his fam­ily and ran in­ter­na­tional foot­ball as if it was his fief­dom.

He gained the sup­port of Asian and African coun­tries, in par­tic­u­lar, by of­fer­ing them the chance to host new tour­na­ments, such as the un­der-17 and un­der-20 World Cups, the women’s World Cup and the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup, which were all in­tro­duced dur­ing his reign.

Have­lange was also a mem­ber of the IOC from 1963 un­til 2011, so it could be said he was dou­ble dip­ping in cor­rup­tion.

As an ex­am­ple, in 1999, De Tele­graaf, the largest Dutch news­pa­per, re­ported that Have­lange ac­cepted gifts of di­a­monds, bi­cy­cles, sports ar­ti­cles, Delft blue porce­lain, paint­ings and art books in con­nec­tion with Am­s­ter­dam’s failed bid for the 1992 Olympics.

"I re­mem­ber it well be­cause he had spe­cial wishes, which were in con­flict with the IOC laws,’’ said Peter Kro­nen­berg, who ran the Am­s­ter­dam Olympic Games 1992 Foun­da­tion press of­fice.

When Have­lange stepped down as Fifa boss, he anointed Sepp Blat­ter of Switzer­land as his re­place­ment.

Blat­ter was Fifa tech­ni­cal direc­tor from 1975 un­til 1981, and its gen­eral sec­re­tary from 1981 till 1998, so no-one knew where to find the money and the votes bet­ter than him.

Though he’s 79, Blat­ter has just won his fifth Fifa pres­i­dency vote, beat­ing Jor­dan’s Prince Ali Bin al-Hus­sein 133-73.

You might won­der what Blat­ter can bring to Fifa at his ad­vanced age.

He’s been among the Fifa hi­er­ar­chy for 40 years. Surely if he had good ideas he’d have in­tro­duced them by now.

What’s more, Fifa has just been rocked by a US$150 mil­lion bribery and cor­rup­tion scan­dal, with a dozen prom­i­nent of­fi­cials ar­rested.

And that in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­lates only to hap­pen­ings in North and South Amer­ica, so does not touch on the scan­dal of how Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, for ex­am­ple.

US at­tor­ney gen­eral Loretta Lynch has called cor­rup­tion in Fifa ‘‘ram­pant, sys­temic and deep-rooted’’ .

Blat­ter has been told to ex­pect to be ques­tioned ‘‘within weeks’’.

Yet the most pow­er­ful man in foot­ball blithely says his con­science is clear and it’s all noth­ing to do with him.

Now and then there is a pointer to what’s re­ally go­ing on.

In 2002, So­ma­lia Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Farra Ado said he was of­fered $100,000 to vote for Blat­ter at that year’s elec­tion.

But Blat­ter bats away such claims, as did steroids-soaked cy­clist Lance Arm­strong for many years.

Like Have­lange and Sa­ma­ranch, he is a mas­ter at cov­er­ing his tracks.

From the out­side it seems likely he has been com­plicit in some of Fifa’s most shame­ful ex­cesses.

But prov­ing mat­ter.

it

is an­other

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