WorldFIFA, this Mammoth with a tarnished image, which turns 118

FIFA, this Mammoth with a tarnished image, which turns 118

AA / Montreal / Hatem Kattou

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was born in Paris on May 21, 1904, at the instigation, among others, of a sports journalist named Robert Guérin, a referee and also a coach.

– A creation without the birthplace of football

What is remarkable in the genesis of a federation, which will later become one of the most prestigious international and planetary sports institutions, is the absence of the United Kingdom, the cradle of football.

Indeed, seven national federations meeting in Paris officially announced the creation of an institution responsible for managing and developing football throughout the world. These are Belgium, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the host country, France, all countries from the Old Continent.

The absence of the islanders was motivated by the stumbling block which had opposed them to the mainlanders and which crystallized around a different vision. The British believed that amateurism is in order in this sport while the opposite camp was committed to professionalizing football.

After the original seven countries, FIFA currently has 211 members, a number greater than that of the States that make up the United Nations (193 sovereign countries). This shows the importance of the Football Federation, certainly drawn from the popularity of the king of sport, but also from the galloping financial dimension which marks this discipline with its imprint today.

– Some emblematic presidents

Of the nine presidents who have succeeded at the head of FIFA for 118 years, in addition to two interim bosses, three have left their mark on this institution. They are the Frenchman Jules Rimet, the Brazilian Joao Havelang and the Swiss Joseph S. Blatter.

Jules Rimet, who officiated at the head of FIFA for a third of a century, is undoubtedly the president who has allowed this game to develop the most. Rimet, who served from 1920 to 1954, was the first honorary president of FIFA and the number of member countries increased during his long term from 20 to 85.

Considered to be the linchpin and the main architect of the launch of the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, the Frenchman, who died in 1956 at the age of 83, gave, during his lifetime, and on the occasion of his 25 years of “reign” at the head of FIFA, his name at the World Cup.

Less than two decades after the death of the illustrious Jules Rimet, it is the turn of the Brazilian Joao Havelange to ascend to the “throne” of FIFA. It should also be noted that Havelange, who died in 2016 after having crossed the century, was the first and only non-European so far to rise to this position, with the exception of the Cameroonian Issa Hayatou who ensured a short interim of two months, from December 2015 to February 2016.

The one who holds the record for longevity after Jules Rimet, (24) was the initiator of major changes in the football world, particularly with regard to the expansion, even the explosion, of the marketing of the FIFA World Cup. .

A single figure illustrates this change is that of the number of countries participating in the most important sports competition in the world, a figure which has simply doubled, going from 16 to 32 during the mandate of the Brazilian, this former Waterpolo champion, with blue eyes steel and imposing build.

Havelange has succeeded in universalizing a sport already popular in the four corners of the planet in terms of the media and financially, by initiating a series of plans and programs and by multiplying the competitions organized under the aegis of FIFA.

Havelange’s successor and his putative son was the Swiss Joseph S. Blatter, one of the most faithful lieutenants of the old Brazilian.

If we except the chaotic end of Blatter’s reign, who was forced to resign four days after his election for a fifth term in 2015, being stained by corruption cases, his passage at the head of FIFA is considered by number of observers and connoisseurs of the world of football as a resounding success.

Indeed, the “King Blatter” as some of his detractors call him, succeeded during his 17 years at the head of the International Federation (June 1998, June 2015) reinforced the activities of “development of football throughout the world and its ability to influence society beyond the green rectangle, by implementing a variety of social, educational and health programs”.

Under the leadership of its eighth President, FIFA has managed to “expand its range of tournaments by adding the FIFA Club World Cup, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup FIFA and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup”.

However, this financial prosperity has been accompanied by a series of corruption cases that have tarnished FIFA’s image and image.

– Ethics Vs corruption: the current dilemma of FIFA

During the holding of its 56th congress on the sidelines of the World Cup in 2006 in Germany, FIFA placed ethics as one of its top priorities, with the stated intention of considering good governance and transparency as requirements in the world of football.

This approach aimed to protect the football management bodies from any intervention, interference or control, whether from the public and political authorities, or from the influence of the big clubs with their major financial weight.

FIFA wanted to establish a system protected from excesses, particularly financial ones.

Nevertheless, and less than a decade after these announcement effects, ethics gave way to corruption and all kinds of business, ranging from match fixing, ticket trafficking, to the dubious attribution of the organization of several editions of the World Cup.

The high point was reached in 2015 when seven senior FIFA dignitaries were arrested in Zurich at the request of the American judicial authorities who had launched an investigation to this effect into “presumed acts of racketeering, money laundering and corruption particularly in the context of the awarding of several World Cups or marketing contracts”.

The facts in question would have taken place over two decades, which says a lot about the “mafia” system put in place and from which several parties profited from royalties and other bribes.

These cases have shown, going back to the origins, that the British who were keen at the beginning of the last century to keep the sport they created in the bosom of amateurism, were perhaps right, at least they had shown proof of ‘anticipation.

Should we (can we do it) extract football from the world of finance, marketing, sponsorship and contracts, both juicy and huge, where the lure of profit takes precedence, to preserve the currency of another illustrious Frenchman, in this case Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games with the motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius – Communiter” (Faster, higher, stronger – together).

Only part of the dispatches, which Anadolu Agency broadcasts to its subscribers via the Internal Broadcasting System (HAS), is broadcast on the AA website, in a summarized manner. .