FIFA’s Biases Question its Credibility

Today when FIFA is at the forefront of its familiarity with 2022 world cup going on, it becomes a bit dampner if someone questions their credibility. It is arguably a counter-question as to why challenge their credibility at this juncture? Is there a motive behind? The answer is ‘No’. However, there have been accumulating factors of several years and decades of injustice by FIFA. The apex body of football have shown numerous biases in its entire history and it may not be appropriate to be indulgent in their acts of both omission and commission. This article will focus only on some of the recent indulgences of FIFA.

FIFA has been a reasonably liberal body not to permit any restrictions in the freedom of speech. However, the present President of FIFA Mr Gianni Infantino, has displayed a clear bias when he briefed the media during the FIFA-2022 curtain raiser. It was apparent that he was sounding some of the politically tinged views of Emir of Qatar while uttering the followings:-

  • Don’t criticize Qatar for any lapses, criticize me.
  • No one will raise Human Rights issues of the low paid migrant laborers in Qatar, scores of whom died during the various stages of constructions of stadia due to Emir’s apathy.
  • No member will display any protest arm band ‘OneLove’ supporting LGBTQ Rights abuse in Qatar. He threatened that any member indulging will be slapped sanctions as well as disciplinary actions. As a protest, Germany players covered their faces during group photograph in their match against Japan.
  • No spectator will be allowed to drink beer during the matches as they usually enjoy.
  • No one should start giving moral lectures to Qatar (esp referring to Europe).

FIFA had also buckled down under the International Olympic Committee and UEFA pressure when they agreed to move Champion’s League out of Russia in Feb 2022. The decision was purely on political lines. Similarly, when Europe pressurized FIFA to prevent Russia and Belarus from competing in FIFA qualification round, they gave in. However, no similar actions were taken against either USA or the member nations of NATO when they invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. On the same lines, FIFA has not initiated any action against Saudi who has gone to war against Yemen for the last several years. These are nothing but hypocrisy and duplicity of action of the apex football governing body.

The inner corruption of FIFA’s top executives as elaborated in many articles and even books, including “Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging, and Ticket Scandals” is no secret. There are strong rumours of scandals in Qatar being awarded the world cup 2022 venue. FIFA’s governing bodies are also believed to be marred in financial corruption and mishandling.

The second and more serious charge against FIFA pertains to bias in selecting the requisite number of nations for the final world-cup event. The table below shows the folly. While Asia with 49 nations and 470 Cr population has 6 spots (8 from 2026), Africa with 139 Cr population and 59 nations has 5 spots (9 from 2026); Europe with 74.5 Cr population and 50 nations have been given 13 spots (16 from 2026). This bias of representation by FIFA is highly objectionable. Some may argue that Europe has been displaying a better standard of football hence, represented in better numbers in the FIFA final selection…BUT…this is the catch-22 story. Since Asia and Africa do not get equal priority, they are left behind in their standard. FIFA members in the continents shown in the figure below that constitute of AFC, CAF, UEFA, CONCACAF & CONMEBOL (shown above). The Australian continent of OFC is usually merged with Asia.

In the table above, it becomes amply clear that FIFA has been biased in the representation of teams from different continents. It is possibly being dictated by the European Federation of Football as well as some other agencies like the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In the coming year, the qualification rounds of matches for the 2026 FIFA world cup will start. There is still time for the apex football body to rectify the glaring anomalies in the number of teams to qualify from each continent. The number of teams to be decided from each continent must have the size of the population as one of the yardstick. If the Human Rights of a nation be the criteria, then all nations committing Human rights violations against their religious minorities, waging wars, Harboring Terror groups on their soils, sponsoring and committing terror attacks against others….all should be included in “Exclusion Criteria” of a nation in their boycott like what Russia & Belarus has been subjected to. In principle, the global sports bodies must refrain from getting politicised and least, the biased approaches. The athletes and Sportsmen cannot be punished for the action of a government or their armed forces/security services. It is time that FIFA steers itself clear of all these controversies and biases.

World Sports Events are one of the most sacred and valued occasions in which the athletes and teams put up their best performance. It is expected that the organizing bodies will not politicize such events. It is also expected from supreme soccer bodies like FIFA will stay away from controversies and work in the best interest of the soccer world. However, numerous FIFA actions in past have been controversial or biased. It is a genuine question as to why the Asian and African continents receive ill treatment in representation while Europe takes the lion's share. It is the time when such anomalies must be corrected. Besides, the political biases in FIFA's decisions are appalling as elaborated above.

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