The FIFA World Cup is now underway in Russia. Who do you think will take football’s greatest prize? (Spoiler alert: it isn’t England.)
It should come as no surprise that FIFA is back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The scandal hit organisation continues to display a lack of decency and awareness of public sensitivities. But poppies aren’t the peak of the problem.
FIFA’s announcement that wearing the poppy to mark Armistice Day goes against their rules covering the use of political symbols, has attracted much scorn on these shores. Understandably this was always going to be an emotive subject. To be told by a proven corrupt organisation, that it is incorrect to remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the freedoms we all enjoy, is beyond the greatest insult that could be spoken.
To enforce it as law is criminal.
The poppy doesn’t care about the motives behind men’s wars, it only displays respect and remembrance for the people that gave their lives.
While Armistice Day is held on the day and hour marking the end of World War I on the Western front, it has since combined with Remembrance Day to honour the servicemen and women that perished in both World Wars and every conflict since 1945.
Even this doesn’t add a grey area to the matter. The sight of a poppy doesn’t carry undertones of a political system or make wearers support a certain way of life. Unlike the swastika. From innocent beginnings as a Hindu symbol to attract good force and discourage evil, it became synonymous with the Nazi regime. This means the swastika will always have political connections, regardless of intended use; the poppy is a perfect example of an apolitical banner.
But there has to be a measured argument against FIFA, and it’s displayed on numerous occasions how out-of-touch it has become with the real world. From Sepp Blatter’s defiance in the face of irrefutable evidence, the blind eye it turns to human rights’ atrocities, the amassing of wealth when it claims to be non-profit, and the announcement that the world no longer suffers from racism.
It’s hard to judge too harshly when FIFA clearly exists on a planet alien to the rest of us.
The poppy ban has gathered the most media coverage in this country. England and Scotland already declaring they will defy FIFA on this matter. Failure to do so would have further sanitised the human element of the game that is self-proclaimed “beautiful.” But its beauty is being deformed by the distasteful motives of its corrupt keepers.
But the poppy ban shouldn’t be seen as the breaking point and call to action. That should have come a little over a month ago when FIFA announced its anti-racism taskforce had completed its mission.
If we’d been without a racist incident in ten years we’d still need a task force. As it stands, we haven’t even managed ten months. Add to the fact the next World Cup is heading to a country riddled with the problem, and houses teams that have recently served punishments because of fans’ racist behaviour, the announcement is more maddening.
Racism will always exist, it’s a sad symptom of any society. The taskforce should always exist in order to repel it at the first sign of a re-emergence.
Like all self-serving fascist dictatorships, FIFA broadcasts propaganda as fact. The more feel-good spin it can produce, the better. Let’s all pretend FIFA have ended racism. Another great success story for football’s benevolent overlords.
Oh, and the poppy represents suggestive ideas we should oppose, but don’t worry: in FIFA-world the only politics are the ones we take care of; you can trust us, we even managed to end discrimination and disharmony.
In the real world: Another dark episode from a despicable regime.
FIFA should be guardians of the game but are failing. We should be guardians of morals and ethics in their absence. Failure to contest any incoming punishment for the poppy ban, and widespread demand to make FIFA fund an independent Racism Taskforce, would be an equal failure.
If FIFA is so worried about using the game to send political messages, it should stop and consider its own behaviour. At the moment, it’s reminiscent of those that proudly wore Hindu symbols while imposing deceitful legislation on the unassuming masses.
The BBC have reported that sports manufacturer Adidas are to end their commercial agreement with the world governing body of athletics, the IAAF. It appears that the recent doping scandals, highlighted best by the allegations of Russian state sponsored cheating, has brought them to the decision. It seems strange they have found moral ground after refusing to condemn FIFA and Sepp Blatter amidst corruption charges.
In big business making public displays like this from large corporations is more about image than moral fibre. People sat in an Adidas boardroom will have decreed that being associated with drug cheats is detrimental to the sporting brand.
This sounds fair enough. When a company is paying in excess of $8m a year, they deserve to be linked with an honest product. There’s no doubt the doping claims and lack of trust surrounding athletics is a turnoff for spectators and commercial partners.
But the IAAF have been more than willing to root out the wrongdoers and have welcomed – albeit with red faces – the findings from World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). They reported that corruption was rife within athletics but their condemnation was aimed at former IAAF President Lamine Diack.
However, the report, presented by respected former president of WADA, Dick Pound, concluded with the statement: “There’s an enormous amount of reputational recovery that needs to occur here and I can’t think of anyone better than Lord Coe to lead that.”
So we have a large sporting institute in turmoil that has taken steps to correct itself by inviting independent bodies to air their secrets in public. Furthermore, they have installed a new president, in the guise of Lord Coe, who has universal backing and is beyond reproach.
But Adidas want to jump ship.
This is the same Adidas that refused to criticise Sepp Blatter when he was coming under increasing scrutiny towards the end of his FIFA reign. The same Adidas that has been the longest serving sponsor of football’s governing body but didn’t flinch when FBI investigators started to detail a web of corruption far more widespread and complex than the one affecting the IAAF.
The same Adidas that seems to have put money before morals.
Leaving the IAAF now isn’t making a statement against drug cheats in sport; it’s taking money away from an organisation trying its best to fight corruption.
The IAAF want to clean up athletics and isn’t running for cover or acting self-servingly like Blatter and Platini did. They shouldn’t be punished for the actions of some within the sports they represent. If a footballer takes drugs he is accountable for his actions, the authorities he plays under should punish him. Adidas should punish the athletes and nations that sought to gain an advantage, not an IAAF trying to reform.
To put it into context, Coca-Cola, Visa, McDonald’s and Budweiser all made statements in October 2015 stating that Blatter’s continued presence at FIFA was holding back reform. However, at the same time Adidas stood by the now disgraced president.
There’s too much to be gained financially by staying in bed with FIFA.
Adidas weren’t interested in making an ethical choice when the FIFA scandal came to light, don’t be fooled into thinking they care about sporting interests now. To this day, FIFA are still resistant to impartial third parties assisting in reshaping the organisation to help wipe-out corruption. There’s no WADA-type invite being issued by them.
The IAAF will survive and under Lord Coe will overcome the many difficulties facing athletics. When they do triumph they’ll be better off without hypocrites like Adidas in their party.