Life under Fifa: the misery of living under the yoke of incompetent tyranny

By Tony Attwood

What is the difference between being ruled by the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and being ruled by Fifa?

Well Fifa don’t arrange or allow the execution of many people, nor do they send them off to Siberia.  But they do steal other people’s money, are utterly corrupt and have a total, absolute, vice-like grip on the way football is run, just as the Government of the USSR had a grip on the way the Soviet Union was run.

Although in theory, total power could be a good thing, if the people exercising the total power were highly intelligent, flexible and benign, by and large people with such features tend to make their money in other ways, or have long since decided that making money isn’t actually what life is all about.

So, just like the ordinary everyday inhabitants of Moscow between 28 December 1922 and 26 December 1991, lived under the yoke of a tyrannical government, the football supporter in much of the world lives under the yoke of the most incompetent self-serving planet-wide organisation that the world has ever seen.

And somehow the leaders of our countries, and the football interests of our countries, bend the knee and bow (quite probably both at the same time such is their desire to catch the droppings from the table of their overlords).

Thus the news that Fifa has rejected appeals by its president Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini against their provisional bans from all football activity should be treated as little more than the rise or fall of deputies of the Supreme Soviet.  Interesting for a second or two, but irrelevant in the desire of people who valued individual freedom.

Platini, had he been an official of the Soviet Union, might have been working in Siberia by now, but as it is he is still trying to become Head of the Supreme Soviet or some such.  Blatter would have been deposed and sent to exile on a dacha in the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic or somesuch.

Fifa’s ethics committee (equivalent to the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Justice) says it will make a decision before Christmas.  Seven years exile and no jam for tea seems to be the height of the punishments available to them.

Now of course I know that some people argue that unlike the USSR, Fifa is just a joke, and indeed the statement by Platini that he was paid over £1m for work carried out as a special adviser between 1998 and 2002 but that Blatter told him at the time that Fifa could not afford to pay him, reflects that image.

As does the notion that Blatter and Platini engaged in a “gentleman’s agreement”.

Bermudan Larry Mussenden head of the Ministry of Dubious Things and Downright Lies (sorry, the appeals committee), said the appeals had been rejected in full but that the ethics committee could  “confirm, revoke or amend the provisional decision” as it wished.  Ah, so full blown democracy and a court open to inspection by all then.  Or not.

Platini and Blatter may now take their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport – an interesting body which Untold last focussed on when the CAS was hearing the Barcelona child trafficking case.  They didn’t do much for a while after that case because most of the Court’s members were so stunned by the combination of arrogance and incompetence in the Barcelona appeal that they lost the ability to speak.

But back to the main thrust of the argument.   The various Soviets that were within the Union didn’t dare rebel and take their freedom from the overlord largely because they were scared stiff of the consequence.

So what is the excuse of the FA, and the associations of all the member countries?   In fact they are afraid too.  Afraid of losing their free junkets, their free handbags, the handouts, the parties, the expense accounts, the endless screwing up of football in their own country (although that might just be a case for the FA in England to answer), and by and large being so utterly incompetent that even the English government demanded its money back.

All we can do is sit and wait for someone to wake up and say, “Hey, do we really need Fifa?  Do we really need the FA?”

But I fear we will be standing here for some time.


  • 18 November 1893: Burton Swifts 6 Arsenal 2 – the first time 8 goals were scored in an Arsenal game.
  • 18 November 1913: Robert Benson joined from Sheffield Utd.  He played at left back through this and the final league season before the league was suspended, when he went to work at the Royal Arsenal.  On 19 February 1916 he went to a wartime match between Arsenal and Reading at Highbury and when Joe Shaw did not make it to the game, Benson took his place, although he had not been playing or training for a year.  He collapsed on the pitch in the second half and died in the changing rooms a little later of a burst blood vessel.  He was just 33.

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24 Replies to “Life under Fifa: the misery of living under the yoke of incompetent tyranny”

  1. Tony, I don´t think the main reason the FA and other national associations don´t revoke their membership or take some strong stance against FIFA is that they are afraid. You say that “in theory, total power could be a good thing, if the people exercising the total power were highly intelligent, flexible and benign”, but the truth is different. Power corrupts, in essence, and so the problem is not about individuals like Blatter or Dyke, for instance, but about systems that prevent accountability. The FA and other associations have no more interest in fairness, transparency and democracy than FIFA because they work in the same way, and thus contemplate with horror the possibility of in-depth reforms. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together… Tyranny is not always overt, and sometimes the appearance of benignity can make throwing off its yoke all the more difficult.

  2. If true and honest reforms are to be carried out and seen to be done at Fifa, Platini and those that are backing him at Fifa and Uefa should not be allowed to contest for any elective post at Fifa, talkless of standing for Fifa Presidential election in Feb next year. The ethic committee that banned Blatter&Platini are said to yet conclude their disciplinary action in favour or dis-favour of Blatter&Platini. And the duo are touted to be appealing to CAS to upturn the Fifa ethic committee of their 90 days banning order. Let’s wait to see the outcomes of these adjudicating bodies. But I believe their decisions will only reinforce more disciplinary action against Blatter and Platini. Why can’t those 2 big Fifa officials resign now from Fifa and even from Uefa in the case of Platini to save themselves of further embarrassments shames and distresses? Is it because they are still counting on the support of the supporters to see them through their trials at Fifa? They may eventually faced criminal prosecution if they continue to insist on contesting this case afterward. IMHO. Consequently, and to serve as deterrent to would be backers to criminality, those who are backing Platini should all be banned from any football related matters by Fifa ethic&integrity committees because by implication, they are fait and accompli to this case and aiders and abettors to the crime committed by Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini.

  3. I don’t think the usefulness (or uselessness) of national FAs is limited to England. It is just different for different FAs.

    For example, Canada has the CSA. They have been making noises about bidding for a World Cup. Canada has 100 times the population of Iceland, and 100 times the area.

    That is what Wikipedia says. In reality, Canada has a population of 6 million people and an area of a little over 7100 square kilometers. The headquarters for the CSA are not in Canada, they are instead in Ottawa, Ontario. What is probably happening, is that the current executive of the CSA is getting close to retirement age, and they want to fill their retirement funds before they leave the CSA. I think the only reason they haven’t submitted a formal proposal yet, is that they are unsure as to how they will receive their brown paper bags of money with the FBI, USA-DOJ and others running around interviewing people and putting them in jail.

    The CSA must be in turmoil. On the good side, Mintas (head of CONCACAF (lack of) Integrity unit has resigned. On the bad side, it appears the head of Chile FA has gone to DC to sing like a bird for the FBI/USA-DOJ. Do we take the brown bags of money, or not?

    And in the background, we continue to hear: “I’m clean, I’m clean” from the speckled bladderbird.

  4. Actually, FIFA DO execute people – not directly of course, but people who have been very high up in FIFA have been guilty of state inflicted torture and murder.

    Brasil in the 1970’s is one of the most blatant examples of this.

  5. The love of money and power. One so easily begets the other.
    Since the peace of 1945, the yearning of much of humanity for an improved standard of living, the gathering of material things and the love of money which could achieve these goals has increased throughout the so-called civilised world.
    In turn, many of those who achieved success the quickest
    turned to power as a natural associate and the abuse of the two became inevitable.
    In the governance of world football, FIFA was formed and honesty never really stood a chance. Money followed the power, followed the money in such abundance that corruption was unavoidable. Those in power in Third World countries were so beguiled by largesse beyond their wildest dreams, that their voting loyalty to perpetuate the FIFA system seemed guaranteed.
    Now, for various reasons, the corruption bubble has burst and a real chance has arisen to cleanse the Federation from the peak downwards.
    No-one must be sacrosanct. Football Associations throughout the world who are shown to be tainted by the dealings of FIFA must be dealt with legally.
    If proper action is taken (and this opportunity simply cannot be missed) steps can then be considered, world-wide, on how to re-habilitate the governance of world football, based on honesty and integrity.

  6. OT, eddy over at PA put this up from a twitter account and I thought Walter might be interested:

    Rob Harris ‏@RobHarris 41m41 minutes ago
    Prem Lge chairman Scudamore jokes to London audience: When I grew up it was Arsenal and Leeds, I didn’t like any of them. I still don’t!”

  7. Who is heading up the FIFA “Ethics” Committee this month?

    Not still the privateer Carcia, surely?

  8. Nice articles about Bellerin and Joel Campbell at

    If any player has loan experience, it is Joel.

  9. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood

    The Daily Mail has a blurb, about a couple of Young Gooners interviewing some Arsenal players. Apparently Mertesacker was quite impressive.

    A question and its answer, that stumped some, surrounds this posting.


  10. You missed that Ottawa, Ontario is outside of Canada? 🙂

    Approximate latitude/longitude limits for Canada are: 44.5 degrees north on the north, -80 degrees on the west, -79 degrees on the east and 43 degrees on the south.

  11. Gord….I though Ontario was a province of Canada but have they recently declared independence? Also just to be precise, Iceland is 103,001 km² and Canada is 9.985,000 km² making Canada 97 times bigger than Iceland. Canada’s population is 35,749,600 versus 329,740 for Iceland, so 108.5 times more in Canada.

  12. Sure my pie could be bigger but then I might have to share. Sure it is rotten but if I say so, I would have to throw it out. Sure that cake is probably better for me than my pie, but I don’t know how to bake a cake and I am the best pieman.

    Stay away from my pie – it is my pie!

  13. It is easy to find maps which show the GTA, but few of them seem to have latitude and longitude on them.

    For me, just looking at the Women World Cup, there were a lot of people who couldn’t support an opening game at Commonwealth Stadium and a final at BC Place.

    I imagine someone from the east can come up with something similar in spirit. But to have a World Cup involving Canada, I think a western Canadian solution is: Vancouver/BC, Edmonton/AB, Calgary/AB, Seattle/WA, Portland/OR and a new stadium Kelowna/BC. If you need more stadiums, Colorado Rapids/CO, Salt Lake City/UT(?) and San Jose/CA.

    That keeps things fairly compact travelwise, and only uses 2 timezones.

  14. Corruption:

    News out of Switzerland, is that the number of dubious transactions is now over 120 (probably 121). It was last reported as 103.

    Transparency International published a report.
    * 81% of FAs have no financial records available
    * 21% do not have a website
    * 85% do not publish activity reports
    * 42% do not publish anything relevent
    * 14 FAs publish minimal information
    – 12 are in Europe
    – 1 in North America (not USA)
    – 1 in Asia

    In terms of Financial Reports, Organization Charter, Annual Activity Reports and Code of Conduct/Ethics; none of the 6 regional organizations pass all 4 categories (3 pass 3 and 3 pass 2).

    In the background, we still hear the speckled bladderbird: “I’m clean, I’m clean”.

  15. In another thread, Tony was talking about Iceland being better than England (in football).

    The BBC referenced a World Economic Forum report on gender pay equity (I only seen 2 genders, might be a problem). In any event, #1 was Iceland, followed by the rest of Scandinavia. England at #18, USA at 28, Canada at 30. And that wonderfully fair place, Qatar, in 122. Only 145 countries mentioned. Yemen was last, the only country below a score of 0.5.

  16. South Korea.

    In October, a club president was arrested for corruption and embezzlement. Subsequent investigation brought to light, the bribing of referees. This led to the recent arrest of two referees for accepting bribes.

    There is no mention of Mike Riley 😈 in the article I read (Yahoo).

  17. I honestly believe that FIFA, EUFA and every FA world wide should be dismantled and started from scratch. It is the only way to stop the “Frog in the well” situation in which football finds itself.

    Yes, we might have to cancel a few world cups, a few EU championships, a few Champions Leagues, etc, but we need to get back to grass routes. Those that overhaul their Association the quickest, earn the right to establish their regional bodies, and an overall adminsitration, that cannot be called FIFA.

    It won’t happen, because of the vested interests of the “money” people in football – they would have to much to lose.

    So the status quo remains, and the paying public continue to complain about corruption.

    The frog stays in the well!

  18. Re my comments above…

    Jose Maria Marin, is the former President of the BFC and the 2014 World Cup Committee. He is currently under arrest Money Laundering, Bribery and Corruption within the remit of the FIFA 2015 Corruption Case.

    However, Marin was a state deputy in the 1970’s under the dictatorship that ruled Brasil in that decade. He was controversial in his speeches supporting Sérgio Fleury. Fleury was head of the Brazilian department of “social and political order”. One of the victims of this tortureous official was journalist, Vladimar Herzog, who was tortured and beaten to death. The authorities gave his cause of death as “suicide” after he was found “hanged” in his cell. 37 years later, following investigations, Herzog’s cause of death was changed to “murder”. Not only did Marin praise Fleury, he was equally guilty of strong criticism of Herzog (who was Editor in Chief of TV Cultura), a free TV channel. The state of Sao Paulo bought the channel in 1969. Herzog openly critisized the dictatorship.

    It would have been within this corrupt dictatorship that Marin learned the basics of Omerta, something that obviously helped his raise to the top ranks of FIFA.

    Omerta as a practice is also apparent within PGMOL

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