POSTED: September 22nd 2011

JOHN GOODBODY: FIFA needs IOC lessons to deal with corruption issues

Issa Hayatou chief of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) / lake images
Issa Hayatou chief of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) / lake images

THE JOHN GOODBODY COLUMN / An authoritative and exclusive series from Sports Features Communications

LONDON: Only the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can save football from the cesspit of corruption in which it is currently floundering.

With the sponsors of FIFA shamefully failing to act decisively against the  governing body  of the world’s most popular game, it is now up to the IOC Ethics Committee to move with judicious firmness against one of the IOC’s members, Issa Hayatou, from Cameroon.

The issue once again surfaced this week after a blunder as monumentally embarrassing as even FIFA has managed to achieve during the regime of its president Sepp Blatter.

Hayatou, who heads the Confederation of African Football (CAF), was named officially on Wednesday by the world governing body as both chairman of the organising committee for the 2012 Olympic football tournament and also head of the FIFA Goal Bureau, responsible for developing the game in countries principally in Africa and Asia.

Hayatou’s predecessor as chairman of Goal Bureau was Mohamed Bin Hamman, formerly president of the Asian Confe deration, who last July was banned from football for life for allegedly offering bribes to officials in the Caribbean when he was seeking to challenge Blatter for the FIFA presidency.

It was an extraordinary decision to appoint Hayatou, when he is already under investigation by the IOC, and also when Blatter had promised after his re-election in June that he was focussed on rooting out any corruption.

However, after the decision had been announced and confirmed, someone clearly had second thoughts and by the end of the day, a further statement was given out from FIFA saying that there had been “a technical error”, stating that the appointments had not been made and would be communicated “in due course.”

All this from the organisation, supposedly administering the world’s most popular sport.

Whoever committed the “technical error” must surely have known the background of Hayatou, who nine years ago challenged Blatter for the leadership of FIFA.

In the BBC programme, Panorama, broadcast shortly before the voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, it was alleged that Hayatou had illicitly received $20,813 from ISL, a formerly business partner of FIFA, in 1995. ISL collapsed six years later.

Hayatou denies any wrong-doing, claiming that the money was handed over to CAF to celebrate the Confederation’s 40th anniversary.

Hayatou was also named by The Sunday Times newspaper in London, when it submitted evidence to a Parliamentary inquiry into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups after England had gone out in the first round of voting for the first of these two tournaments.

Russia got the 2018 tournament and Qatar the 2022 competition, despite the total unsuitability of the Gulf State as a venue for an event of this magnitude. It was claimed Hayatou had been bribed to vote for Qatar.

However, the scandal over the voting, in which trading of votes was so evident, led to FIFA banning two of its members of its Executive Committee.

Hayatou denied these allegations and the woman, who made them against the Cameroon official as well as two other FIFA members, subsequently withdrew her allegations that they had received bribes. 

All the  announcement, followed by the retraction, has done this week is to remind everyone – although many certainly do not need reminding – how appallingly run FIFA has been under Blatter, with its evident corruption among officials, its failure to act properly on positive drugs tests and its unspoken belief that provided football brings in enough money, then no moral stance is needed.         

** JOHN GOODBODY covered the 2008 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 11th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001.

Keywords · John Goodbody · IOC · FIFA · Issa Hayatou

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