by Tony Attwood
As we have often noted, it is a prime mantra of Fifa that football authorities should not be subject to the demands of national governments but should in fact be utterly independent except that they are answerable to the next footballing authority in the hierarchy. That hierarchy ends with Fifa which as we know is subject to many charges of corruption, and now has its most senior person hiding from the Swiss authorities by living in Qatar.
The incompetence of varying footballing authorities is well documented – most notably in England the incompetence of the Football Association and the League in dealing with everything from child abuse to handling the final of the Euros at Wembley.
But it seems football doesn’t like it when national lawmakers reject the demands of footballing authorities.
We can see how this rule of “football looks after football, it is nothing to do with the state” works out after the President of the Gabon football association (Pierre-Alain Mounguengui) was indicted for his “failure to report crimes of paedophilia” having been arrested last month.
After that “a senior official from African football’s governing body attempted to intervene in a state investigation into whether the president of the Gabonese Football Federation (Fegafoot) covered up widespread sexual abuse.”
The general secretary of the Confederation of African Football then alleged that because Mounguengui’s arrest came two weeks after he was re-elected to his position, the charge against him by the state was “a new attempt to remove Mr Mounguengui from the management of Fegafoot”.
Later they added that, “Caf wonders in particular about the real reasons that have justifies the arrest of President Mounguengui and on those who would still justify his continued detention after questioning.”
So here we have the body that runs African football, which itself was recently cleansed of undesirables at the behest of Infantino, and replaced by his nominees, now reiterating that governments must bend the knee to Fifa and the regional football authorities, no matter what nasty events they find happening within the game.
In short, what Fifa, who now control Caf, was trying to do was trying to arrange the quick release of Mr. Mounguengui, and thus override what the courts had ordered, on the grounds that Caf thought it was unlikely he was guilty and they had a suspicion that the elections for Fegafoot were not held properly.
And we have to remember that Caf and Fifa are under the direct command of a man who has been charged with having illicit unminuted meetings with the head of the Swiss legal system while he himself was under investigation.
If you have missed this in the past you might care to have a look at The case against Infantino and Fifa comes back to life and could get tasty and Head of Fifa quits Europe and moves to Qatar and escapes Swiss investigation.
But Fifa does love to cite government interference when it wants to get more power for itself. For example, in February, both Kenya’s and Zimbabwe’s football associations were suspended by Fifa on these very same grounds: that there was governmental interference.
And it is not just Untold that questions the way Fifa behave in making itself above governmental rules. Cameroon and Egypt have been found themselves run by “normalisation committees.” The government in England and the FA say nothing about such things and constantly bend the knee to Fifa. However, as the Guardian also reports, “a spokesperson for the international players’ union Fifpro said Caf’s behaviour was ‘highly inappropriate’.
“The evidence gathered by the relevant domestic authorities was apparently deemed sufficient to detain Mr Mounguengui, who has been the president of the Gabon Football Federation for several years, a period of time that coincided with the occurrence of the widespread abuse,” a Fifpro spokesperson said.
“It is critical that sport’s governing bodies respect the independence and the process of the criminal justice system, while ensuring that sporting sanctions are imposed according to their own ethics and disciplinary standards and based on their own investigations. Invoking a so-called prohibition on ‘political interference’ by a government, in this case, is not only a breach of decent governance but may adversely affect the victims and survivors, for whom sports governing bodies share a responsibility of care.”
However such lofty ideals are beyond the wit of Fifa and its lackey, Caf. All power to Fifa is the only mantra they know, as the fact that the head of Fifa has retained his power and position despite the mounting evidence of corruption against him.
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