How FIFA has Failed as an Institution

FIFA is an embarrassment today more than ever. The Federation de Football Internationale has been failing as an institution while it promotes free-play and transparency among other human values that, as a western society, we hold dear to our hearts. For the past few years, FIFA has been involved in corruption scandals and malpractice that have made it a victim to harsh though probably fair criticism from the international media.

A few days ago, FIFA was finally applauded for harshly penalizing Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez for biting an Italian player during a match. Suarez will not be able to play a match for four months and nine games in addition to a $100,000 fine. Some argue that the fine was just, while others argue that FIFA acted rashly because it knew the entire world was watching. Yet, all of FIFA’s controversies have happened off the pitch and some even date back to 1986.

Here goes my dream of having a shot at working for FIFA:

Argentina 1978

Photo Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of

They were cold nights during the World Cup in Argentina. No, not cold because of winter. Death was having his own sort of world cup celebration. He had been preying on Argentinean citizens for years now, but this time he enjoyed it more than ever because he knew an entire nation was turning a blind eye and keeping the other on football. Argentina had been awarded the right to host the World Cup years before by FIFA, but it was well-known that the government was “disappearing” its own citizens.

If FIFA stood up for human rights, then why didn’t it take away the right for Argentina to host the World Cup and give it to another more stable nation at the time? Those that were tortured by the government recall their screams being silenced by the goal celebrations of the World Cup. Most remember 1978 as a time of joy and celebrations, while others had that privilege stripped from them.

La pelota sí se mancha.

South Africa 2010 & Brazil 2014

Photo Courtesy of Daily Mail

Photo Courtesy of Daily Mail

It appears as if it’s becoming FIFA policy to award the World Cup to developing nations. It’s become a common misconception that hosting the World Cup will bump up tourism revenues over the short-term and long-term. According to CNN, South Africa spent $4 billion on the World Cup and profited only around $300 million from it, according to The Telegraph.

Yeah, South Africa got beautiful stadiums and infrastructure, but continues to have a growing income inequality and more shantytowns than ever with an unemployment rate of 35.4 perccent. Let’s not forget about the 5.7 million (out of 49 million) affected with HIV/AIDS. Oh, and FIFA made $3.3 billion in profit from the 2010 World Cup.

It seems as if the World Cup in Brazil is going down the same path. Is FIFA improving socio-economic issues for host countries or is it actually hurting the host countries? One thing is for sure, though: like Roger Waters from Pink Floyd once wrote, “Money, it’s a crime.”

Qatar 2022

Photo Courtesy of The Independent

Photo Courtesy of The Independent

This is looking like a completely different monster involving corruption and human rights. According to The Sunday Times, key FIFA officials were bribed $5 million for the 2022 World Cup bid. After these accusations were published a few weeks ago, FIFA’s chief investigator Michael Garcia (we’re not related in anyway, I promise) was said to investigate the allegations with hard evidence, but has opted not to examine the documents provided by The Sunday Times. Completely counterproductive in the first place to have a FIFA official investigate the scandal.

Qatar was the least likely to be chosen for the World Cup because it was considered high risk. Temperatures that reach over 120 degrees Fahrenheit that may endanger both players and fans was one of the main reasons for concern. In addition to those concerns are issues of human rights. Qatar, along with other Middle-Eastern states, rule under draconian system called Kalafa. Under this system, employers have complete control over workers, and they dictate what they are allowed to do and at times have their passports confiscated.

Such is the case of French football player Zahir Belounis, who wrote a letter seeking help to Qatar’s World Cup ambassadors and football legends Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane. The French footballer had been trapped in the country since June 2012 because the club he played for had confiscated his passport. In the letter, Belounis says, “I have been living a nightmare for months. They’re killing me slowly.”

Photo Courtesy of Sportige

Photo Courtesy of Sportige

A representative of the Human Rights Watch said that, “Despite French diplomatic attempts and Zahir giving up two years of his salary, the authorities in Qatar broke their promise of letting him go, twice.” Luckily, Belounis was granted an exit visa pack to Paris. Upon his arrival back home he had admitted that he had turned to alcohol to cope with his problem and considered suicide several times.

Also, the Human Rights Watch reported that, “If a worker leaves his or her employer, even if fleeing abuse, the employer can report the worker as ‘absconding,’ leading to detention and deportation. In order to leave Qatar, migrants must obtain an exit visa from their sponsor, and some workers said sponsors denied them these visas. Reporting mechanisms and remedies are effectively unavailable to migrant workers. In addition, the labor law excludes domestic workers, almost all female, denying them basic protections such as limits to hours of work and weekly days off.” I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: screw worker’s rights — nobody needs that, right?

The construction for the Qatar 2022 World Cup has already claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 migrant workers, and 28 of those individuals committed suicide.

If I could, I would be buying my plane ticket for the Qatar World Cup as we speak. It just sounds so exotic and dangerous, you know?

Russia 2018

Hey y'all there's one for Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Jr.

Hey y’all there’s one for Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Jr.

Russia spent over $50 billion on the Winter Olympics and it was a f*cking disaster. Reservations gone wrong, hotels that weren’t finished, bathrooms with double toilets (I wouldn’t mind some bonding time), tap water that looks like piss, and stray dogs that walk around your hotel hallways. Not to mention how members of Pussy Riot got the living crap whipped out of them in broad daylight in Sochi by the Cossacks in front of tourists.

Yeah, it sounds like this stuff is coming out of a Grand Theft Auto video game but we all know this is true and it can’t be made up. Why would FIFA want to go ahead and continue with Russia 2018 if the country can’t even get it together for one city?

FIFA is a strong promoter of what they call “Fair Play,” punishing players harshly (and probably justly), and has had an incredible portfolio in projects for socio-economic development such as the partnership it currently has with the Inter-American Development Bank to create opportunities for children and young people living in poverty in Latin America. A project I applaud FIFA for.

As for where they stand on human rights FIFA states on its own website “…FIFA has given full backing to highlight the importance of human rights and education for children around the globe…”. But what about those thousand workers that have died in Qatar for our entertainment? Why did FIFA still go ahead with the World Cup in Argentina knowing what the Argentine regime was doing to its own citizens?

About the Author: Fernando Bendana'