The Battle for the Soul of FIFA & Boris Johnson’s EU Football Nightmare

In Zurich to witness the fight that one of the candidates describes as, “the most important in the history of FIFA”.

Sheikh Salman

If a candidate, like Sheikh Salman of Bahrain with the human rights allegations against him, wins, the credibility of FIFA will be over.

Salman is firmly in the lead with delegates officially committed. The other four candidates are battling, but it is unclear how anyone can catch Salman at this point.

Here is the basic math of the election. There are 5 candidates, 209 votes in the election. A candidate can win if they get 139 votes on the first round of voting.

Sheikh Salman is the favourite. William Hill, the UK bookmakers, have him at odds of 8/15, Gianni Infantino 6/4, Prince Ali of Jordan at 8/1, Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale at 66/1.

Here is why the odds are so heavily in Salman’s favour.

Salman has the public commitment of two of FIFA’s largest confederations: Asia and Africa – with 46 and 54 votes respectively (100 total).

His closest rival Infantino has the public support of two others: Latin America and Europe – with 10 and 53 votes respectively (63).

No one expects that all countries will follow their confederation orders. (Prince Ali asked specifically that mobile phones be banned from the voting booths. Presumably so that photos could not be taken of the ballots – meaning some delegations have promised him their votes but only if they can do it secretly.)

However, even if both front-runners only get two-thirds of these confederations’ votes it still puts Salman far ahead of anyone else.

From the FIFA battle, lets move on to a Euroskeptic’s – and every other sporting fan’s – nightmare.

Boris Johnson’s EU Skeptic’s Nightmare

Three weeks ago, Marina Hyde of The Guardian wrote a superb article on the Qatari anti-corruption in sports agency (Oxymoron alert) the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS) being given the red carpet treatment at the UK Parliament in Westminster by Damian Collins, the Conservative MP and one of the leaders of the NewFIFANow organization. Hyde was funny and spot-on in her analysis of the dreadful event calling it “big staging post on the ICSS’s comic caper of a journey towards credibility”.

Collins welcomed the Qatari funded organization to the birthplace of Western democracy claiming that they would “audit” the Commonwealth Games for proper sports governance. It is difficult to understand what countries with long traditions of free speech, parliaments and, generally, non-corrupt public services like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK could learn from an organization funded by a banana republic with oil like Qatar. After all, Qatar is under relentless pressure from labour activists and human rights organizations for their treatment of indentured labourers under the Kafala System.

The Qataris also have massive credibility issues in football as many people in the sports world – from ordinary European football fans, to the former head of the German Football Association to the Sunday Times journalists who wrote a four-hundred-plus-page book on the subject – believe the Qataris gained the right to host the World Cup 2022 through bribery.

However, these are the people who fund the organization that Damian Collins thinks can give lessons to bunch of democrats on good sports governance.

It gets worse: much worse.

Hyde quotes an interview with Mohammed Hanzab the head of the ICSS, with Andy Brown of Sporting Integrity Initiative (SII).

“It is true that it (ICSS) is 70% funded by the Qatar Government and 30% is funded through projects we run…. I have said to may people: “if you can secure me the 70% from other governments, from other foundations, then I will be happy…”

Geddit?

The Qataris are planning to use other people’s money to subsidize their oxymoronic sports anti-corruption agency.

Actually, it gets worse.

You see the Qataris already get money from European Union taxpayers to “teach” Europeans about match-fixing and sports corruption. Under the Erasmus Program run by the Brussels bureaucracy, millions of Euro are doled out to various projects to “fight match-fixing”. Many of those projects are given to people connected to the ICSS. The saddest programs are the ones where the Qatari-connected “experts” get paid with EU money to teach athletes “ethical standards”.

In short, if you pay taxes in the European Union you are subsidizing the Qataris anti-corruption in sports organization to teach Europeans on sports governance. Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and George Galloway get on this right away!

Link to Marian Hyde’s article in The Guardian: http://tinyurl.com/hrzqskd

Link to Andy Brown’s interview with Mohammed Hanzab: http://tinyurl.com/qhqzkpl

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