Despite having pulled off the 2018 World Cup without a hitch, FIFA’s host appointment was marred by controversy. Russia and 2022 hosts Qatar are nations with human rights violations. They should not have the ability to host major sporting tournaments. Corruption in FIFA is nothing new, and their latest move proves they still haven’t learned a thing.
According to AP news, FIFA has stripped the word from their new code of ethics, and are going all in on defamation. Take a look at the following from section 22.2 of their new code of ethics: “Persons bound by this code are forbidden from making any public statements of a defamatory nature towards FIFA and/or towards any other person bound by this code in the context of FIFA events.” This essentially keeps things vague enough to allow FIFA to punish those who speak out against them.
From AP News: Those found to have defamed FIFA will be banned from any football-related activities for up to two years and they can be booted out for five years for repeated “serious cases.”
This is dangerous. Why? Because FIFA president Gianni Infantino already thinks the world of himself. This authoritarian stance isn’t going to help paint a picture that corruption is no longer a problem in world soccer’s governing body. In fact, I’d say it does just the opposite. FIFA is working to keep people quiet. To me, this reeks of cover-ups.
Furthering my hypothesis is section 12.1. This section states “Bribery, misappropriation of funds and manipulation of football matches or competitions may no longer be prosecuted after a lapse of ten years.” Give me a break. In the former code of ethics there was no limitation on time. No matter when an offense was uncovered, you’d be punished for it. Now, as long as you can manage to keep something quiet for ten years, you’re in the clear. FIFA’s offering a way out. On top of that, prosecutors only have five years to complete cases that breach this code, so timing is…tight. How convenient.
Transparency? What transparency?
This makes me wonder what senior figures like Infantino still have to hide. Full disclosure, I haven’t combed through the code myself just yet, but what I’ve seen so far doesn’t make me feel as though we’re going in the right direction. After the FBI uncovered various forms of corruption in 2015 leading to multiple arrests, including ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter, many thought we may finally be turning over a new leaf. However it is now abundantly clear that is not the case.
Infantino claims FIFA “is a transparent organization”, but the manner in which they have implemented their new code of ethics proves that they are not. There is an ethics committee that worked to implement these changes, but it was done entirely in private and the chambers of the committee have not been allowed to speak to the media. Have I mentioned how convenient this all is? “Transparency behind closed doors” must be FIFA’s new slogan.
FIFA has “erradicated” corruption by implementing ways around corruption. Those who wish to speak out against FIFA better have their facts straight, or be prepared to have hell rained down upon them by FIFA themselves. We can only hope that the current regime faces the same fate of former President Blatter, who was ousted by the very code of ethics he implemented. Wishful thinking, I know.
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