POSTED: October 11th 2017

NEIL WILSON: Has FIFA taught the Olympics a lesson in honesty

The FIFA bunker in Zurich © Foto net
The FIFA bunker in Zurich © Foto net

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) FIFA, football's oft derided global body, is the last sporting organisation you would expect to be giving lessons in transparency.

Not so long ago IOC president Thomas Bach was taking the high moral ground when FIFA was embroiled in the corruption scandal surrounding voting for the World Cup hosts for 2018 and 2022.

Now that the IOC has serious problems of its own - the French and Brazilian federal investigations into allegations of vote selling by former IOC members - FIFA has shown it the way ahead.

In FIFA's monthly magazine its president Gianni Infantino has written that rules for voting for future World Cup hosts are to be changed with immediate effect.

Already we knew that FIFA's disgraced Executive would no longer have a say, that its full council would take that primary role and, most significantly, each national federation in membership would each have a vote, all 211 of them.

Now Infantino has gone further. The votes of each council member and each member federation would be published.

None of them will be able next June to disguise how they voted for the host country of the 2026 World Cup.

It is that anonymity in voting that has led to the vote-selling corruption of that past, as it is now within the Olympic movement.

IOC members do not tell the truth and, under present rules, cannot be seen to be telling the truth.

I remember the British politician Denis Howell who led Birmingham's vain bid for the 1992 Olympic Games telling me that if all the IOC members who had promised him their vote to his face had honoured their word, there would not be enough votes for any other city.

The same happened to the English Football Association's bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Loads of promises, some in return for favours, but in the end just a single foreign vote. "The votes that were promised clearly didn't materialise," said its wrap-up report.

The 2009 vote for the Olympic host of the 2016 Games is now seriously questioned. The IOC's evaluation report was not complimentary about Rio. It warned of problems. Four rivals were clearly better equipped in its opinion.

Yet the IOC membership voted for it. How many sold their vote possibly only the French and Brazilian police know. Or how many simply voted irrationally, their gut ruling their head.

None had to justify themselves because their votes were not revealed. Their corruption or irrationality could go hand in glove with the lack of transparency.

The IOC should accept that FIFA now has the high ground. It should take the lesson to heart. When next they select an Olympic host city they should be willing to put their name to their vote.

** NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

****The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sports Features Communications.

Keywords · Olympics · Neil Wilson

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