FIFA’s corruption scandal shows capitalism is in crisis
Suggestions of corruption at FIFA are nothing new. It’s been well known for years that millions of dollars have changed hands between the mighty football organisation and sponsors, governments and powerful individuals. However, it’s always been something that was known about but not spoken of, the inevitable side effect of having such a large and influential organisation at the heart of the world’s most popular game.
Now, with the arrests of several FIFA execs and the resignation of Sepp Blatter, it is apparent that even the mightiest corporations can fall. FIFA has, in the minds of many, been associated with enormous wealth, lucrative sponsorship deals and a popular game. But if it emerges that FIFA has given the World Cup to countries that may not be able to sustain it accusations that there has been too much emphasis on the profit of football rather than the game itself may start to ring true.
‘It’s only a game’ they say, but it’s been a game of cat and mouse for the FBI, Swiss investigators and the alleged wrongdoers at FIFA. It was astonishing to many of us that after the arrests that Blatter was once again elected as the FIFA president. Finally, those accused of corruption must answer for their actions and if found guilty take responsibility for running the game in the interests of the highest bidder.
Nobody in England is in doubt that this country was robbed of the 2018 World Cup in favour of ‘corrupt’ Russia, but we may not be the most unbiased arbiters here. It seemed ridiculous at the time, when the UK is already host to stadiums with large capacities and football teams known about and supported the world over. To the casual English observer (and many less biased onlookers) it appeared that the home of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal had been robbed of the chance to bring football ‘home’ simply because Russia could pay more.
However, one must now begin to question not only the morals of bowing to corruption and power, but also the human cost that comes from it. The 2022 World Cup was assigned to Qatar, a country that is far too hot to host a summer football event and one that is in no way equipped for a sporting event on such a grand scale. Tourists will descend on Qatar, demanding alcohol in a dry state, and proving to the world that football hooligans and Qatar perhaps are best kept apart. That is not the worst of it, though. It emerged that last year, a construction worker died every other day on the building sites in Qatar. How has FIFA been able to ignore this unimaginable failure of humanity?
Whether those arrested are found guilty is still to be decided, but one hopes that FIFA can be reformed. If nothing else the revelations of potential corruption suggest that FIFA’s internal workings are extremely old fashioned and display to the world the worst face of capitalism. But FIFA is far from the only big organisation out there that needs to be reformed. The Anglo-American form of capitalism may have had its day if recent banking and other corruption scandals are anything to go by. Once Blatter has left, the organisation must ensure that it takes steps to distance itself from its past. One way of doing this might be to embrace a new approach to business where benefits besides financial gain are given weighting in the decision-making process and where the wealth of the football community at large is prioritised ahead of the profits of a few very rich investors. Capitalism the way we know it almost inevitably leads to the few profiting at the expense of the many, but it doesn’t have to be this way as smaller movements around the globe, such as crowdfunding, the Conscious Capitalism movement and the Cambridge Phenomenon are proving. Big businesses the world over can learn valuable lessons from such organisations.