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April 2021

Why the British nations should have left Fifa long ago.

By Tony Attwood

In England there is a big fuss going on – but some of the facts are of course hidden.

The key fact that is mentioned is that Qatar is accused of spending a few million pounds in bribes in order to secure the world cup in a few years time.

The other key fact, the one that is not mentioned, is the England spent about £21m bidding for the right to run that world cup in England.  £21,000,000 that could have been spent on grass roots football.  Had we spent it on grass roots football we would have hundreds – maybe thousands –  of new pitches by now, and lots of young people, and enthusiastic if untalented adults would have somewhere to play.  A lot of enjoyment would have been generated, and some people would have been helped to overcome their obesity.

And we would have had no world cup to host.

Having chosen to bid we have instead no new pitches, a grass roots programme in total chaos, money withdrawn from Sports England because of gross incompetence by the FA, a press that hides FA incompetence because it likes the junkets.

And no world cup to host.

From virtually the moment that Untold kicked off in January 2008 we started talking about Fifa and its corruption.  No one particularly noticed.  Actually the Observer newspaper (a Sunday paper published in London) did run quite a few stories about Fifa corruption, but no one took any notice of that but they did it as a sort of “well what do you expect from funny foreigners and football men” and nobody noticed.

Instead we kowtowed to Fifa’s extravagance, let the FA continue it crazy way spending money, taking the Prime Minister, Prince someone or other and David Beckham out to the announcement ceremony, only to find we got only two votes for our bid.  And one was ours.  Now the same British PM says that England should be given the world cup.

Since then rumour, allegation and down right laughter at the naivety of all those who thought the bidding was fair (come on guys it was Fifa) has echoed louder than the echo of the Big Bang.

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We’re going to have a world cup that was won by bribery through an organisation run on corruption and appalling morality, no human rights, and slave labour, where homosexuality is illegal, where it is far too hot to play football, where there is no mass market for football, where there is no democracy and where the same family has run the show since the 19th century.

The Times’ report is simple in essence.  It suggests that Mohamed bin Hammam, banned from football, unbanned on appeal, then banned again on other charges, tried to get African votes by paying out money.
And people are walking around as if they were shocked.
The only shocking thing in this story is that they claim to be shocked.

Fifa has no reputation to protect, no credibility behind it, and yet – and yet – it still runs world football because no nation has the guts to say, “We’ve had enough, we’re pulling out, who’s coming with us?”

Three big nations doing it, and the edifice of this horrific corrupt organisation that thinks that locking young women up without trial for wearing the wrong t-shirt is moral and just.  And utter shame on the South African government for going along with that.

And you don’t have to take Untold’s word for it.  What do we know?  We just try and stand up for decency in a world that can be horrible at times.  So, forget us.  Read Andrew Jennings instead if you want to know about Fifa and how its past president Joao Havelange, Ricardo Texeira and Ncolas Leoz, took £££££££ in bribes with the knowledge of, oh who was it, oh yes, Blatter.

How many people are there that actually believe Fifa is a just and honourable organisation?

If like me you believe that number is very few, why the fuck are we still in this stupid position, with the FA spending all this money with these idiots, charlatans and crooks?   An organisation in which Bin Hammam, the man accused of fixing the Qatar world cup, stood for the top position in Fifa as the candidate for reform.  The man who would sweep away corruption.  The man who called for transparency, until on 29 May 2011 he withdrew, was then suspended for paying money to Jack Warner.

So they then had a Presidential election with just Blatter as the candidate, and 186 people voted for him.

Bin Hammam was then cleared, as I mention in my last post, by the increasingly incredible Court of Arbitration in Sport.  And Blatter carries on, because – you want to know why? – because the receipt of commercial bribes was for a long time not a crime in Switzerland.

What is so wrong is not what happened about the Qatar bid.  Not at all.  It is that the countries that make up Great Britain, plus numerous other democracies, are still in Fifa.  This is not an organisation we have to be in because if we were not, our citizens overseas would have a hard time of it.   It is not like having an Embassy in a country with no human rights.  Doing that does not give support to that country, it protects our citizens.

But by being in Fifa the FA, the Scottish FA, the Welsh FA and the Northern Ireland FA are supporting Fifa and all that it does.

We should have pulled out long ago, and I feel able to cast that opinion as a citizen of the United Kingdom.  I am utterly ashamed that my country is a member of Fifa.  There is no excuse for being there, and we should have pulled out of Fifa long ago.  We could do so now, and we would if any of the FAs had any moral fibre at all.

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33 comments to Why the British nations should have left Fifa long ago.

  • Completely agree with you on this one Tony. Fifa are scum. A completely unaccountable organisation staffed by people who are morally on the same plain as your average child tracfficker. Blatter is everything that’s wrong in the world encapsulated in a single human being. World Cup bids are won on the promises of who can offer the best bribes, the best jolly ups, the most accommodating prostitutes. It was a sickening spectacle to see Beckham and a British Royal and a British PM toadying to these vermin.
    If so much as three major footballing nation’s pulled out they’d be fucked. Unfortunately, noone in national football heirarchies per se has either the principles – or the balls – to do so.

  • menace

    HEAR! HEAR! this is the truth, the reality of why so much is ruined by the few for so many. Well done Tony.

  • Frank Wilcox

    Absolutely dead on correct!!well said,indeed!!

  • Robl

    The really annoying thing is it looks like they spent less on bribes than we did on trying to win it fairly. In reality that one other vote cost us £21,000,000, when the other party were allegedly only paying $500,000 per vote….

    Where did the £21M go is the real scandal.

  • nicky

    I simply do not know what all the fuss is about.
    FIFA are carrying out an in-depth investigation into the Qatar business.
    Led by Blatter I have every faith in the outcome.
    Qatar will be exonerated, I’m sure and FIFA’s finances will benefit.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Great article Tony!!!
    One to bookmark and to read again from time to time.

    The more I read about Fifa the more I gradually have started hating international football. People at my work know I am football mad. Yesterday Belgium played. So today at my work people asked me: did you see it? The answer was : nope.

    And apart from when an Arsenal player is playing (I might fancy Costa Rica) I will not watch the world cup.

  • dan

    So the pot call’s the kettle black, all the nations bidding paid backhanders, some just paid more handsomely than others!!!

  • bjtgooner

    Good article Tony, I agree that the UK associations should dissociate themselves from FIFA and by not doing so they are supporting the continuance of all that is corrupt about FIFA.

    However, very often when a person or consortium support something as obviously corrupt as FIFA they have a reason for doing so. On occasion that reason can be fear of discovery or indeed fear of losing some form of reward. Such “arrangements” can develop when there is insufficient transparency.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree, we should leave FIFA, though maybe some would object as it would compromise our teams competing,in the champions league run bupy the almost as corrupt daughter of FIFA? Think we would need support for a boycott….not sure we will get it.
    It will be the sponsors that eventually kill what FIFA is now.
    As for the World Cup, agree with Walter, only interested in our players coming back fit and healthy, the World Cup as it has become….and a lot of other football disgusts me.
    FIFA will try and slip this one under the carpet, but just hope the Times have enough evidence and material sustain this over sufficient time , to not let it go away, to do Blatter and co real damage….and take Qatar cheer leader Platini out of the equation with them

  • Pete


    A couple of points.

    Grass roots pitches are actually pretty expensive – the youth football club I’m involved with is looking for a ground (multiple grass pitches plus astro) and the sums are pretty excessive! Nevertheless, £21mm would certainly make a difference.

    Also, we did not bid for the World Cup that Qatar won – we bid against the Russians… I would certainly be interested in finding out more about how that was awarded.

    As for Blatter, the BBC today said that the UEFA delegations were “planning a sit down protest” (huh?) against Blatter – and were thinking of putting up a German or Dutchman against him. So perhaps a glimpse of light?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Pete, wish they would put someone against him. The trouble may be finding someone not compromised by criminality at that level of football….would probably be like trying to find a decent leader with sufficient experience for North Korea from that country should the dodgy haircut be overthrown.
    I hope there would be suitable candidates for a lead role in football administration, but do wonder. Even our lot have supported Blatter and FIFA at times in the past when they shouldn’t have done.

  • greencardusa

    Fifa is now big business. Big business and governments! Is it possible Tony that they all conceal and harbor corruption of one sort or another? If they do, how can one expect them to make the principled stand you demand? We may be expecting the wrong people to make something of this. All the institutional critiques offered in these pages have so far pointed in the direction of more extensive corruption of one sort or another, especially in relation to football. Yet it is not only football that is touched by this scourge. Look around and this practice in football pales in comparison to all that is happening around us in this world.

  • weedonald-omgarsenal

    Let’s look at a few elements of this very complicated FIFA picture beloved UA brethren:

    1)Estimates vary but it seems that between 285 and 300 million people participate in Football worldwide and this number is growing.

    2)There are 208 nations affiliated to FIFA with 205 of them fielding national teams. There are another 1-3 nations seeking admission to FIFA every year.

    3)FIFA’s annual budget total for 2013 was 954 million Euros, but that is not the total amount they work with as this is a WC year and the predicted revenue is still unclear.

    4)FIFA gets only 1% of its income from its member associations registration. The vast portion of revenues comes from the WC. The last world Cup had 2.3 BILLION viewers/spectators ….by far the largest sporting event watched on TV or listened to on the radio or the net.

    5)FIFA is a ¨non-profit¨ organization whose Swiss residency permits it to do its ¨banking¨and financial transactions without EU or other scrutiny.

    6)FIFA does not permit ANY country’s politicians or leaders to ¨interfere¨ or influence Football in their country and those that do are quickly slapped down with threats of blacklisting and withdrawal of services, financial support and other privileges.

    What this all means is that FIFA is too big to fail, is protected by its membership out of fear and financial slavery and answers to nobody. It is bigger than the UN, more financially powerful than many countries, has everyone who loves the game in its thrall and can manipulate, misinform, machinate, misrepresent, and menace any one who threatens its aegis. What business, political enterprise, religious organisation or national movement holds such power, other than the Catholic Church? Like the Church, FIFA’s original mandate to govern and promote Football worldwide has been corrupted and almost forgotten in the rush to ¨grow¨ and dominate its membership. Do we need FIFA….NO! Do we need a fair and player/team-focussed higher authority that supports all sorts of Football worldwide in an equitable and generous fashion….YES!
    The 6 points above,along with many others highlights why there will be no change for the better while men like Blatter and Hammam were/are in power.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    @Mandy Dodd

    Why does the new head of the organisation have to be an insider? There are plenty of international organisations of that are well run. The executive could be brought in and the necessary football knowledge could be supplied by others. Besides the new person could hardly do worse.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Completely agree GGG, but not sure who would appoint them….maybe it doesn’t even matter on an individual if the whole thing is run by a transparent auditable body.that runs for the good of the game and not individuals….and from country that protects their secrecy.
    If there is a fair,re vote and Qatar loses, wonder if they will pull their money out of the game in a hissy fit….if so a club or two should be worried

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Agree with you Tony and guys , high time to hightail out of FIFA . They are obnoxious ,terribly bloated and are full of themselves – ripe for an explosion ans the shit hitting the fan !
    How they will be brought to their knees ? I really do not know , but with the withdrawal of support , of sponsorship and an unified and concerted worldwide condemnation of their practices should get the ball rolling .
    Something along the lines of this following article that I received in an e-mail today .
    Have a look .Lets start a movement .

  • oldgroover

    So that’s that then.
    I recently read (Private Eye) that although Garcia is an excellent investigator, he’s extremely loyal to his employer, who in this instance is Blatter. Need you say anymore!

  • nicky

    I’m puzzled how we managed to spend £21m on a failed bid to obtain a WC venue.
    Were there “gifts” involved?
    I think the time is nigh when our friends in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should be consulted with a view to seceding from FIFA. In the hope that other footballing nations will follow.
    A sort of isolationim

  • nicky

    “isolationism” seems the catching attitude to take at the moment with departure from the EU very much on people’s minds.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Septic Bladder has spoken !

  • Kelser

    Tony, what criteria must be filled to become the head of Fifa? Or simply to run for the position?

  • oldgroover

    Are you referring to our failed WC bid for 2018?
    I’ve never seen a breakdown of the accounts for that (I thought it was nearer £15million), but there is huge PDF that you can download about the Commons inquiries into our failed bid including the way it was undermined by Triesman, BBC Panorama, etc.
    Not much was ever said about where the money went.

  • nicky

    I quoted the figure which Tony used in his post. It seemed inordinately high I must say.
    Somewhere among the FA records there must be details of disbursements…. which we will never see 🙂

  • Shard

    Wouldn’t it make it impossible for the Premier League to continue as is if the FA opted out of FIFA?

    Referees will not get FIFA badges and might not want to work anymore. Players might opt to play in countries that recognise FIFA so as to continue to be selected for their nations (and hence increase their earnings and popularity). Uefa might well kick English clubs out of their competitions. Fifa will certainly put pressure. PLayers might not even be able to transfer to and from England as the transfer might not be registered.

    And even if none of that happens, what next? What instead of Fifa? End to international football and World Cups? Some other organisation created by various FA’s? How will that be any better? Who runs the world game and coordinates on things such as rules and tournament dates and player eligibility? Who regulates transfers? Who allocates tournaments?

    Fifa are corrupt but they perform an important function. How do you replace such a large organisation and start from scratch, and how will the new organisation be any better?

  • weedonald-omgarsenal

    As always Shard, excellent interventions. Here are my responses to your timely questions:

    1)Only 7 officials from a country may hold a FIFA badge and another 7 are on the waiting list so to speak and they must retire at 45 years of age so very few officials are affected by going out of FIFA. That said, the FIFA badge is the holy grail for every referee or assistant.

    2) In actual fact, unless a player holds dual citizenship, he or she could not play in any sanctioned FIFA events. However they would probablyreplace them with their own events organized by the new Association of non-FIFa national associations. since FIFa is a money generating organization, the risk of losing that revenue would not be taken lightly and my guess is that FIFA would come down hard on any of its members dealing with non-members, something it doesn’t currently do.

    3)EUFA is an offshoot of FIFA but Platini is such an opportunist and has ambitions to become the FIFA DG, so that he might encourage the dissolution of parts of FIFa to make Blatter look bad. This is pure politics, which is the second aspect of Football that determines what gets done and by whom, after the money of course. I could see EUFa setting up a league with the top 10 or 20 nations opting out of FIFA.

    4)I think the FA’s of each country leaving FIFA would likely create a new organization or adopt a current one (EUFA?)if they were European Clubs. FIFA should be running the WCups and assuming management of the Laws of the Game, and that is it. The rest should be in the hands of the FA’s involved in the CL, the Europa League, and other championships. Transfers should be between FA’s and NOT in the hands of FIFA and tournaments should be in their purvue as well.

    What I am arguing is that FIFA has become too big and too greedy and uncontrollable. The Laws of the Game and the various World cups are enough for them. Let’s get the national associations working together to bring Football back to earth and to have some accountability for what is happening in each nation.

  • nicky

    Shard, your comment left me feeling very depressed, only to have my spirits raised again by the view of WeeDonald.
    The more I read about the need to secede from FIFA, the more it reminds me of the present situation vis-à-vis the UK and the EU. 😉

  • Shard


    I agree with the principle behind that, but I am unconvinced a working solution can be found for it. Fifa may be too big and too corrupt, and anyone hoping to replace them or at least reclaim some power will have to deal with financial losses, and will also look for eventual financial gain. Besides, unfortunately, decentralising power doesn’t always end/reduce corruption. It might make it more amorphous and more ‘democratic’ if you will, but corruption is not confined to just Fifa. The associations and indeed football clubs are all prone to it.

    I would think it might be easier and more effective to carry out some reform in Fifa and world football rather than exit and start from scratch. What reforms? I have no idea. I don’t even know how exactly Fifa works.

  • Shard


    Sorry if I depressed you. Although that’s akin to shooting the messenger 🙂

    I know the membership of the EU is a big issue in the UK, but I am ignorant of the arguments. So no views there.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Platini….now that does depress me, the French socialist man of the people who voted for a country to host the World Cup in 2022 which has already resulted in the deaths of over 900 workers on construction sites for this project.
    I would like to see Platini strung up with the rest of them, in some ways, he is the worst of the lot….at least Blatter, for all his many faults did not vote for Qatar , Platini was one of their main cheerleaders….wonder why

  • Sav from Australia

    I must disagree with you regarding Fifa. They may be somewhat corrupt but they have also been a driver for equality. My observation is that football is seen by the likes of Sepp Blatter as a tool for global unity. I don’t know any large organisation that does not have certain levels of greasing the wheels, why have unrealistic expectations of Fifa when all of football is the same.

    Maybe because its a pan European organisation with a globally inclusive viewpoint but I wonder…if Britain had founded Fifa would the following have occurred…

    Japan and South Korea 2002. On the back of the huge economic development of East Asia.

    South Africa 2010. On the back of huge economic development throughout Africa.

    Brazil 2014. Brazil is a unique case. Huge economic development but a traditional football giant.

    Russia 2018. We all know the political situation at present. Russia is slowly growing post Soviet era.

    Qatar 2022. One of the safest areas on a volatile region. Allows the Arab world to feel they are part of the rest ofthe wworld.

    East Asia. Africa. Russia. And then the Arab speaking region. Maybe even inclusive of the Muslim world at large.

    There is and was a plan. Global integration. I grew in South Africa and my elders well schooled me on the nature of inequality. I have experienced it throughout my life. Be it in my time in New Zealand or in my current home of Australia. So perhaps I see Fifa in a different light and I forgive them alleged corruption. Because the tangible results are that football is being used as a tool for greater equality amongst the people of the world.

    Those who do not understand the history of the world may not understand how basic dignity was stripped from so many races, so recently. Any organisation that does even a little to address this issue is commendable in my view.

    I do not excuse corruption. But I see that there is a positive context globally.

  • Gord


    I am ill equipped to deal with political issues. But I did see a note on the BBC (I’m Canadian) that the Federal Police in Brazil just got a raise. I don’t know the particulars, but it is easy to think that having the World Cup in Brazil might have something to do with it.

  • Shard


    I agree with you. In particular about the attitudes of many European football fans towards football in other cultures and climates. If players in Qatar, Iran, Bolivia etc can play those temperatures and altitudes, so can Europeans. England is already being excused for a possible failure at the World Cup since they are in the middle of Amazonia and the humidity will be too much for them. Why don’t they just stay at home instead of participating in a WORLD Cup then?

    I agree with you. Making the World Cup a genuine World tournament is important. Of course Fifa do it so that they earn more money, but that is how things are done. I would include the US 94 in there as well. That too opened up a new market in a new country and got more fans involved in the sport.

    I was annoyed at the outrage that followed England’s bid not being accepted and at Russia’s bid being successful as well. Russia has problems just like any other country in the world has problems. Sport is supposed to be inclusive. Not another means to advance politics and prejudices and exclude people who are different.

    Another thing that is often done is decrying the hosting of tournaments in developing countries as a ‘waste of money’ (happened in South Africa and in Brazil now) as if it is the right of only the developed countries to host tournaments and sporting events. Like you, I am glad the tournament will be going to new places.

    Fifa would be corrupt whether the World Cup went to Qatar or not. I suspect the real annoyance, for a lot of people, doesn’t actually stem from their corruption. Merely that the corruption isn’t benefiting them.