Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Panorama / FIFA debate

I have just finished watching the 'explosive' Panorama which was shown on BBC1 last night about alleged corruption in FIFA and I have a problem.

In case you missed it the program outlined how three FIFA executive committee members have accepted bribes (some time ago) from a sports media company wanting to obtain exclusive rights to marketing the World Cup.

It went on to cast what appeared to be rehashed allegations against two other officials about bribery and corruption on a rather grand scale.

The final point of the documentary concerned what appeared to be a fairly tenuous link about the guarantees which FIFA require of bidding nations which are supposed to be kept confidential but the Netherlands (another bidding country) have published.

To my mind the Panorama argument was weak and the reason for this could be for one of two reasons.

Either Panorama in order to simplify had time only to give headline facts in its half hour format OR allegations did not have substantive evidence behind them. Now I cannot believe for one moment that BBC lawyers had not gone through the allegations and supporting evidence with a fine tooth comb or litigation will surely follow and therefore I must assume that the first possibility is at least plausible.

On the other hand, the documentary did appear to take somewhat of a scatter gun approach and surely if the proof of wrongdoing was incontrovertible then there could have been time to concentrate on the major allegations?

However, assuming that there was a glimmer of truth in the program it is very worrying that FIFA may be riddled with corruption.

The key issue here is that the allegations in Panorama WERE plausible. As such it is entirely wrong of FIFA not to comment or provide a defence.

Let us not forget we are talking about an organisation which has already had to suspend two members of its executive committee as they were proved to corrupt.

Therefore if plausible allegations are levied then FIFA should provide a defence to prove that in this respect they are above suspicion. This is only a common standard of probity.

We are talking here about a body who has wide reaching powers and whom people at the highest level of our society are courting for the privilege of holding a world cup.

That same body therefore must be above reproach.

What we have here is an organisation that at best seems sordid and at worst thoroughly corrupt.

My question is, irrespective of the Panorama allegations, do we really want to be associated and subordinate to that body in holding a world cup?

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