What utter crap of an article. Ok, that does sound pretty mean. The article is fine, the argument is not.
Franciso Torro argues that the root problem behind FIFA’s corruption is the power of the “unbreakable web of cronies” at the national level. That much is true, it is the problem, however his solution to this is definitely not the answer.
“One player, one vote” sounds great as a slogan, but giving countries voting power based on the number of registered players is so incredibly flawed and a dangerous path to go down for the global nature of the game.
My first major problem begins here, “It gives small countries hugely outsized influence over the organization, influence out of all proportion to their interest in or contribution to the game” (emphasis, mine). You can throw viewership numbers, financial numbers around, but to me that is no way to measure countries’ interest in the game. Yes, this is an argument of the heart, football is a game of the heart, to me and so many more. You need only recall the wild emotions of last year’s World Cup to know that. It is the most global sport there is, it is the beautiful game (no corrupt people in suits and ties are going to change that), and the claim that smaller countries have a smaller interest in the game is a poor argument to make. Contribution may be low now, but it will also be kept that way if the author’s proposal is taken up. Allow it to grow.
Blatter certainly did garner a lot of votes by pouring development funds into small countries, and what exactly is the problem with that? Big countries already have the funds to do this, small countries need the assistance to have the opportunity to grow the game. This is how the global game really stays global, and continues to grow. Sign up more players, he says. How can you possibly do that when you lack the funds and the facilities to provide for these players?
He puts some good numbers in to justify it, the huge disparity in number of football players between various countries. An example, “5,257 times more people play soccer in Germany than in Bhutan”. No shit! 80 million people, compared to less than 1 million. That isn’t even taking into account economic differences between the two. That also ignores the fact that if literally every person in Bhutan registered and played football, 100% of its population “contributing” to the game, “interested” in the game, they still would not stand a chance to have a fraction of the voting power that Germany would have under this proposed system, because 2% of Germany’s population is greater than 100% of Bhutan’s. “Interest” and “Contribution” has a ceiling.
And let’s be clear, “registered soccer players” takes into account people that play the game officially, at some level. It isn’t going to take into account a bunch of kids who kick around a ball rolled together from plastic bags because they don’t have the time, resources or facilities to be officially registered with FIFA. How do they get access to such facilities? Through funds provided by FIFA. That’s how you grow the game, that’s how you give kids opportunities that they otherwise will not have.
The reason that football is so popular, yes this is going to sound obvious, is because it is the most global game there is. There is no sport (maybe with the exception of track and field) that is played in more countries in the world, or certainly by more people. Giving greater power (votes in FIFA) to the top footballing nations will just perpetuate their ability and status, and not properly further global football development.
When the arrests were made, when Blatter resigned, there was a big cheer from a lot of people. Yes, it needed to be done, however there were also a lot of people who started looking ahead and thinking, “Who is going to fill this void?” It’s a scary thought. Time will only show how this plays out, but an increasingly euro-centric FIFA is hardly unlikely.
Blatter had many faults, but his funding football development in smaller countries was certainly not one of them. FIFA’s “one country, one vote” system is also susceptible to corruption. That’s no surprise, democracy is a good thing when done properly, but it’s not a system that is perfect in reality. The solution is to increase transparency and regulation of national associations to ensure that voting at the national level, and international level is clean. Centralizing power will shrink the game, maybe not in the financial sense, but certainly in its status as a truly global game.
I for one hope they retain the current system. By all means, clean it up, at the national levels too, but maintain the parity. Global democracy for the global game.