By Suryansh Upmanyu
Hey there Infantino ji!
Over here! We are calling from a tiny country called India (FIFA rank 162 if you can remember it like that). Congratulations on your appointment as the new FIFA president! Celebrations are in order! But we would still like you to go easy on the champagne (the one that you drink, not your fellow contestant Jerome). There is loads of work to be done.
(Oh yes! Bhangra Time!)
You have taken charge of an organization mired in controversies at the moment. Throughout your predecessor’s term in charge, allegations of corruption have stayed with FIFA. If you cannot remember all of them, here is a video showing you the timeline.
If you do not understand the problems facing you yet, maybe we should explain them once:
- The 2018 World Cup in Russia and 2022 World Cup in Qatar:
Allegations of money changing hands for votes have surfaced ever since the bidding took place. If you want to make money, fine! But at least, consider the conditions players will be playing in! From close to sub-zero temperatures one year to over 400C the next, I think you forgot that they are humans too.
It is as if Blatter was saying, “Oh no no. Eet wuz just too cold in Russia. So we thought of compensating for eet by having ze world cup in ze hottest conditions available.
- “Disloyal Payments”:
Blatter and ex-UEFA boss Michel Platini were banned from football because of a payment of 2 million Swiss francs by the former to the latter in 2011, close to the presidential elections when Blatter was facing a huge competition from Mohamed bin Hammam. None of them were able to give a valid reason for the payment. Hence the ban.
- Blatter’s Verbal Diarrhea: Let Me Just Quote Him This Time –
i) “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts… Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball.”
ii) “I think in football, there’s too much modern slavery, in transferring players or buying players here and there, and putting them somewhere.”
iii) On John Terry’s affair with a team-mate’s wife: “Listen, this is a special approach in the Anglo-Saxon countries. If this had happened in let’s say Latin countries then I think he would have been applauded.”
I think you got my point.
- Corrupt Colleagues:
It is not as if only Sepp Blatter was accused of corruption. In May 2015, top FIFA officials were arrested after a years-long investigation by US Fed authorities. The people arrested or sought for questioning include –
- Jack Warner: Former president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football
- Issa Hayatou: Head of the Confederation of African Football
- Ángel María Villar Llona: The president of the Spanish Football Federation
These are just the main ones. Over the past year, I have seen the words “bribes” and “FIFA” come together so many times I think they are synonymous now. (You don’t want them to say, “Infantino ji is working for bribes now.” Do you?)
It never seemed as if FIFA cared about the charges levied against it. Instead of acting against the corrupt, it went ahead to produce a movie on the history of FIFA!
Personal advice: do not watch it. Here is why:
FIFA’s mission is simple: “Develop the Game (which they didn’t), Touch the World (and exploit its resources), Build a Better Future (for themselves?)”. Hopefully, you will be able to accomplish this mission successfully and without any problems which would deteriorate your organization’s already tarnished reputation.
I am sorry if I sound too rude or too angry at you. It is true that I know little about you. But my frustration with the management of world football’s governing body has made me cast all office bearers in the same light. It might sound unreasonable. But now when you have the top job, you need to understand what we expect from you.
You have been associated with UEFA since 2000 and have been its general secretary since 2009. Therefore, you have plenty of experience in the football administration. You have been involved in the project “Financial Fair Play”. You have projected yourself as a man of integrity and your appointment has raised hopes in the footballing world, with even the FA director David Gill stating that it was a good day for football.
You have mentioned in your speech that we need to “restore and rebuild a new era in FIFA where we can put again football in the centre of that stage”.
I hope that you do so. With all my heart.
All the best at your new job sir!
An enthusiastic fan