Friday 9 December 2016

Behind FIFA's talk, football has become pork-barrel politics

Paul Hayward

Published 03/06/2014 | 02:30

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff with the World Cup trophy during a ceremony in Brasilia yesterday. Reuters
FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff with the World Cup trophy during a ceremony in Brasilia yesterday. Reuters

WHEN FIFA is not forcing outrageous construction bills on developing countries in return for the right to stage the World Cup, bribes are allegedly being offered to small countries so that immensely rich ones can buy football's biggest tournament.

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Brazil, where the World Cup kicks off on Thursday week, is groaning under the weight of FIFA's demands on stadiums and infrastructure, as South Africa did four years ago. Qatar, on the other hand, is spending billions of dollars on a future-proofing project that was secured, according to overwhelming evidence, by corrupt payments to African nations to swing the 2022 vote away from Australia and America.

This unholy combination – gigantism and ballot rigging – has wrecked the governing body's credibility, with potentially disastrous consequences for the world's favourite game.

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