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Dark clouds hanging over football administration in the region

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The game of football, or soccer as it is popularly known, is referred to locally as “the game of the people.” Globally, it is promoted as “the beautiful game.” However, there is nothing either ‘of the people’ or ‘of beauty’ in the scandalous events that emerged this week from the home of the international governing body of the game, FIFA, with its base in Zurich, Switzerland.{{more}}

On Wednesday of this week, a pincer-like operation involving US Justice authorities with the office of the Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the one hand, and Swiss justice authorities on the other, resulted in the indictment and arrest of leading FIFA officials, including CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands and the man he replaced, Austin “Jack” Warner of Trinidad and Tobago.

The indictments do not at all read as though they are related to football administration, but sound rather like charges against those involved in an international criminal enterprise – racketeering, fraud and money laundering.

It could hardly get worse for FIFA, but more indictments and arrests may well be on the way. Worryingly for the Caribbean, is the arrest of Webb, a rising star in FIFA circles and one who it was hoped would help to eradicate the negative images from the Warner era. He now has been caught in this tangled web, and with other CONCACAF and South American officials also charged, dark clouds hang over the administration of the game in this hemisphere.

This culture of bribe-taking is not unique to football, but the scale of the FIFA shenanigans are mind-blowing. A few years ago, the scandal which brought down Warner had involved allegations that football officials from the Caribbean had been handed tens of thousands of dollars in a bid to influence them to vote for a challenger to FIFA president Sepp Blatter. As far as we are aware, the whereabouts of all of the alleged ‘bribe money’ has never been publicly disclosed.

Failure to deal with smaller incidents like these, when they occur, is what cements the corrupt in place and helps to propel the corruptible along this course.

FIFA, international football, regional and local football have a gigantic task in cleaning the sport of the corruption that is crippling it.

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