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By Tony Attwood
Large sporting organisations tend to have time limits set up for their chief executives etc, simply to keep them under control, to stop them holding a job that they are not mentally fit for, and to allow them to be moved on if there is a single whiff of corruption.
The chief executives of large sporting organisations invariably accept the job knowing the time limit on their appointment, and then seek to get that rule changed allowing them to stay on for longer and longer.
Why do they do that? Why do they accept the time limit on their job, make no complaint about it and then demand that the rules are changed for them so that they can stay on, and on, and on?
And when they do that why do the major international bodies agree to the change of rules, even though the person who came into the job said he would never want such a change of rules?
Take Ceferin at Uefa. He has asked Uefa to change its rules so that he can stay as president for … well as long as he likes it seems.
Take Fifa where the notorious Gianni Infantino has demanded and got an extra four years in the presidency, at a rate of over £4m a year.
And it is not just football. Thomas Bach at the International Olympic Committee has a presidency also limited by time, but it is reported that he has people working to remove the time-limit on his term of office. And there is work afoot to get this changed.
If we look at Uefa as once example of the result, it is a horrible, terrible mess. Look at the Champions League final in Paris, an utter disaster that was totally organised by Uefa. Or the final last season, where fans could not get water, and the trip to the out of town venue took hours and hours. Or the licensing and approval of the FA and its stadium, which led to rioting for the 2020 final.
Not Uefa’s fault exactly, but they knew what the FA were like beforehand, and even if they didn’t they most certainly could have taken action against the FA subsequently. But the old pals’ act rang true as ever.
Time limits are imposed to prevent a tiny group of pals getting power, paying themselves fortunes, and then excusing their own cock-ups. They can also ignore corruption on a huge scale when it suits them.
What of course any of these notorious leaders of such bodies could do is sign up to non-changeable statutes which say quite simply that once they are in the job, they must leave after four or at most eight years AND THIS RULE CANNOT EVER BE CHANGED.
But they don’t, and that tells you a lot about Fifa and Uefa, not to mention the FA.
Of course, not everyone has their snouts in the trough, although a read through Untold’s articles on Uefa and Fifa might make you think that they do. But it is frightening to read in the New York Times that “when the term-limits change is voted on by UEFA’s 55 national associations at its annual meeting in Paris on Thursday … even Mr. Ceferin’s harshest critics expect him to get what he wants.”
Quite simply because keeping the existing tenant in his job invariably means “tens of millions of dollars in funding, plum committee assignments and valuable hosting rights,” for those who voted for the man in charge. For many of these voters the choice is, “put in the moral candidate or get yourself and your family into luxury for life.”
As the article continues, “There has not been a contested presidential election in FIFA, UEFA or any of soccer’s other regional governing bodies — or in the I.O.C. — since their current leaders took office nearly a decade ago.”
The longer they stay in office, the longer they become irreplaceable, at first in their own eyes, and later in the eyes of those who benefit from their largesse.
So how did Ceferin get into a position in which after a couple of utter disasters of Champions League finals he could come in as the man to clean it all up, only to end up as the continance of the past approach to European football?
As they say, “As the little-known leader of Slovenia’s soccer federation, Mr. Ceferin seemed a clean break from a problematic past.” But now?
And so also consider the FA. Who are they going to vote for, as they desperately try to hide their own gross incompetence as shown at the Wembley final, by… getting another tournament. And, oh, look. England is to host Euro 2028 with Ireland.
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