29 May 2015

Four more years at FIFA for Sepp


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And it’s four more years at FIFA for Sepp “I’m not perfect” Blatter, the man who could teach Vladimir Putin a thing or two about winning elections. The news from Zurich is that Blatter has triumphed again.

It is easy to be flippant about the comical shenanigans at football’s disgraced governing body, as the organisation battles to survive an investigation into wrongdoing that has led to a string of arrests. After all, football is only a game; the figure at the centre of the row – Sepp Blatter – is so obviously in need of the sack yet he spent last week fighting to survive; sponsorship directors at some of the world’s biggest corporations have cause to be extremely nervous; and the spectacle of watching the shadier members of football’s ghastly global elite realise that this is serious now – as people could go to jail – is just deliciously amusing.

But the cronyism and downright corruption at FIFA, exposed by London’s Sunday Times and the BBC, have imposed a high human cost. The ludicrous decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar – where summer temperatures hit 50 degrees, making sport impossible – meant that the Qataris began a building programme to create the stadiums and other facilities required. The country had no football infrastructure to speak of, which means it hired an army of labourers. The Qataris dispute how many of the estimated 1200 migrant labourers who have lost their lives in the country since 2010 were working on the World Cup, but as it is one of the biggest construction projects in history it seems safe to assume that many of the deaths flowed directly from the decision by FIFA to choose Qatar.

The crisis at FIFA also raises fresh questions about globalisation, excessive scale, ethics and corporate misbehaviour. The organisation grew too rapidly as the global middle class expanded and the value of television rights rocketed. With money pouring in, insufficient transparency and no proper democratic oversight, the scope for cross-border corruption was enormous. Once again an overly large international organisation has provided a case study in what happens when institutions are insufficiently robust and the greedy are given too much scope to indulge themselves.

Writing for CapX this week, Tim Morgan addressed similar themes in relation to the reputational problems afflicting modern capitalism. As he points out, much of what is condemned is actually corporatism, to which the answer is more competition and transparency. Tim’s article is one of the five I’ve chosen this week from CapX and you can read it below. Gerald Warner also tackled the Greek crisis and Olivia Utley produced a great primer on Rand Paul.

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX