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Just kicking around

Just kicking around
Highlights

In terms of catastrophic developments, an unprecedented situation has befallen the beautiful game. It will, perhaps, mark the first time from time immemorial that a sports body remains rudderless at the global level.

In terms of catastrophic developments, an unprecedented situation has befallen the beautiful game. It will, perhaps, mark the first time from time immemorial that a sports body remains rudderless at the global level.

Despite well-orchestrated calls for the removal Sepp Blatter, the situation has so developed that FIFA, inarguably the most powerful sports body in the world, is now devoid of the services of three of its most influential administrators.

The suspension of the three on corruption charges implies that the interim in-charge Issa Hayatou will have to ‘steer’ FIFA and also the 54-member UEFA, following the exit of its President Michel Platini. Both FIFA and UEFA are in complete disarray.

In their bid to cleanse the system, the over-enthusiastic people now running the show have seemingly committed a hara-kiri that could be equally devastating whereupon it could be back to square one.

If Blatter, Platini and former Secretary-General Jerome Valcke are the black sheep, then past records indicate that Cameroonian Hayatou is no saint either.

He has himself admitted a conflict of interest fraud when he accepted kickbacks from a marketing firm, four years back. It is widely believed that former chief of German Football Association and Blatter-baiter,

Theo Zwanziger, would be the ideal man for the two-year interim job. He has time and again decried the blatant abuse of power while awarding World Cup venues.

There is a lesson for every sports body from the FIFA saga, particularly the one which revolves around Blatter’s never-quenching thirst for power.

The 17 turbulent years illustrate how an individual, who ruled like a dictator with his unabashed promotion of cronies and elimination of potential opponents, can defy and survive global calls for his ouster.

It is somewhat obnoxious that although many like Diego Maradona, Luis Figo and Platini himself have called for his head, each proved spineless

when it came to taming the all-powerful ruler, thanks to associations from Asia and Africa, which benefited from Blatter’s ‘broad-based’ vision.

It needed the collective wisdom of FIFA's independent ethics committee to impose sanctions on the ‘culprits’. A bigger blow for Blatter is the criminal investigation that has been launched by the Swiss government.

Taking the issue from another angle, it all boils down to age, a factor that has destroyed many a discipline -Juan Samaranch, Bernie Ecclestone,

João Havelange and Blatter stand as classic examples of the negatives and harm that monopolistic stranglehold’s can render. The question now is whether red-cards and suspensions,

which are bound to be contested, will be enough by themselves or whether outright ban on them would have been a more impactful punishment.

Irrespective of which way things move in the days to come and who actually takes over as full-fledged officials, FIFA will need years to cleanse itself and earn the trust of the people.

That sounds as absurdly impractical as seeing the dream of India making it to the top 100 in rankings getting translated into a reality.

Editor: Prof K Nageshwar

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