It’s been building for a while, and last night what everyone already knew was made open: The BBC had more dirt to dish out on FIFA’s World Cup decision committee. It turns out three more members of the decision committee took bribes in the 1990s. This is in addition to the two members offered bribes by a Sunday Times sting just a few weeks ago.
Cue all sorts of outbursts from people across the board. In the above-linked BBC article, FIFA is said to have “dismissed” the allegations, although the IOC (Olympic committee on which one of the implicated men also has been involved) has said it will investigate. This probably sums up the difference between the IOC and FIFA in terms of rooting out corruption, a common complaint of Declan Hill, the excellent investigative journalist banging the drum for rooting out corruption in sport. He’s written once again incisively on the FIFA World Cup vote, the winner of which is to be announced on Thursday (for 2018 and 2022).
The BBC has had to defend itself from incredible attacks from all sides relating to this; most pertinently and hard to fathom is the England bid team’s outburst. Apparently “are relevant to the current bidding process”. What?!?! Evidence that another 4 of the members who vote, on top of the 2 previously suspended ones from the Sunday Times sting, are corrupt means that a quarter of the 24 (now 22) man committee is corrupt. How on earth is that not relevant?!?! There are times when people say things that beggar belief, and this is one.
What is clearly required is a substantial reform of the bidding process for World Cups in the light of all this. Why should a select band of clearly corruptible men make decisions that are worth billions to countries? Why shouldn’t all FIFA members vote, an alternative structure that would make corruption much more costly (if not impossible)?