With a premature Champions trophy exit, England’s national habit of failing to win a major sporting tournament continues. Set up by a media complicit in placing the weight of a nation on our athletes’ shoulders, at least when the fall does come, it makes for compelling reading.
When England’s male cricketers last got knocked out at the group stage of a global tournament, Australia had the courtesy to go on and win the thing. Two years on from their humiliation at the hands of a burgeoning Bangladesh side, the tables appeared to have turned; England were favourites and well set going into the knockout stages of this year’s Champions Trophy.
The election of Gianni Infantino has brought with it hopes of a fresh start for the beleaguered international governing body of football. Yet despite the promises of a clean break, there is much from FIFA’s past that remains to be resolved, not least the whereabouts of the now infamous FIFA Executive Committee of 2010, whose votes handed Russia and then Qater the hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups…
In November last year The Sports Integrity Initiative published a feature piece probing into the scarcity of women found in the top jobs of sporting administrations, including those in FIFA. Later this month the election for the top job, the President of arguably the most powerful sporting institution in the world, will take place with, currently, five contenders – all male – battling it out for the top job. Of these five, only Jérôme Champagne was willing to discuss the issues. Former Presidential candidate David Ginola was another keen to put forward his vision.
Over the past few years the fight for equality between the sexes in sport has been gaining momentum. Arguments in favour of increased investment, sponsorship and media coverage in women’s sport are now being heard on multiple platforms and the efforts to implement appropriate practices are increasing.
While the on-field fight is an important one, an area in which less fanfare is made, but in which there is arguably even greater inequality, is the one found behind the scenes, beyond the glamour and glare of the spotlight – those of the sports administrators. Traditionally these roles draw little attention anyway; a smooth operation should appear as though there isn’t an administration in place at all. However with the onset of the FIFA corruption scandal, the administration of the world’s most powerful sports governing body has tumbled headfirst into the limelight.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) today confirmed that at the request of US authorities, the Zurich Cantonal Police have arrested six ‘soccer’ officials in connection to bribery allegations, who have been detained pending extradition to the US. ‘The FOJ’s arrest warrants were issued further to a request by the US authorities’, read an FOJ statement. ‘The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating these individuals on suspicion of the acceptance of bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and the present day. The bribery suspects – representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms – are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries – delegates of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organisations – totaling more than US$100 million. In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America. According to the US request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the US, and payments were carried out via US banks.’
FIFA said that it is “very happy” that both US and Swiss authorities today took separate actions over alleged embezzlement ahead of the 65th FIFA Congress, 28-29 May 2015. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) charged nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives with ‘racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, among other offenses, in connection with the defendants’ participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer’ in a 47-count indictment released this morning. This statement also included the unsealing of the identities of four individuals and two corporations, which had previously pleaded guilty to DoJ charges under seal. Hours earlier, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) had confirmed that six ‘soccer’ officials had been detained as part of the US investigation.