MY WORD ON SUNDAY: Khama vs FIFA

SHARE   |   Sunday, 07 June 2015   |   By Mpho Dibeela
Khama and Blatter Khama and Blatter


President Ian khama was at his harshest this week, becoming the first African head of state to outrightly denounce soccer’s disgraced leader, Sepp Blatter. In choosing the words ‘as if he was God's gift to the game’, his contempt on the man’s traits was poignant. It was a sinking sucker punch; almost like showing the man the middle finger! He has not drawn this line, at least publicly against his worst critics or political opponents like Duma Boko for example or the aging Robert Mugabe. Khama was shocked that on the face of over-spilling corruption allegations Blatter had the audacity to stand for elections on Friday. Even more shameful for the President was that African soccer officials, including his own country’s representative, voted for Blatter disregarding the scourge of corruption stench that was visible even for the blind to see. The re-election of Blatter is more telling about the man’s influence and hold. While Khama insists he is no demi-God, the African and Asian leaders of football would point to his ignorance and naivety. To them Blatter was and remains among the angels that have tea with God every morning. He is His embodiment to them. Ask one about why they would die for him and they will point to football infrastructure in their different continents. For Africa, the fact that the World Cup was played in the continent for the first time under his leadership, will forever make Blatter adorable. They hail him for the Goal Project that focused on infrastructural development in member states, by putting up football pitches and office developments that eased financial burden of having to rent up offices or look for accommodation for players. In Botswana, this gesture is embodied in Lekidi Centre. Blatter himself came to officiate at the opening of the facility and the roll-out of Goal Project 2. The Botswana Football Association's (BFA) Tebogo Sebego was chaffed to have the biggest man of the sport on his turf and between jokes, tea and real business their association went a step up. It was clear as he regretted Blatter’s resignation this week that Sebego has lost his hero. That is certainly not the case for me. Africa and Asia’s behaviour in glorifying the man and not the institution is exactly why the third world countries are still struggling in striving towards true and real democracy. One man rule arises out of such – institutions are destroyed at the behest of one man. People tend to believe that there will be no life without this man. And for Sebego and his crew, there is an assumption that without Blatter FIFA is doomed. They push the belief that there are no people out there who are far better than Blatter. They cherish fear-mongering; the fear of the unknown. This belittles the human race, even themselves in stooping so low for one man. Money invested in Africa and Asia was not Blatter's. It was FIFA's. It was to be expected that any leader with the kind of resources FIFA has should have developed the game, including in underdeveloped areas. One should not over-glorify a man for doing what he is reasonably expected to do. This is what Africa and Asia are doing. There is a real chance that these continents could have gotten more if the money raised by FIFA was not used to corrupt people and buy favours.
Khama’s outburst against FIFA is understandable. He is right in stating that the world has highly capable leaders. For him, however, FIFA has stood on the way of his attempt to develop the local game. His brainchild – the Constituency tournaments – has not been fully embraced by FIFA and there lies the grudge. This is more personal and based on the threats of suspension of the country by FIFA; he has found himself in a tight corner. As to whether Khama and other governments would influence reforms at FIFA to insure that Governments – that fund soccer – are not undermined, it might not be that easy. Meanwhile the man that presided over excessive corruption at the world soccer governing body is still in office, having determined his way and time of exiting the stage though his is a coerced departure and should not be up to him. Suddenly he believes in reforms, including limiting terms for his successors. If it were by me, he would have handed over the office keys immediately after his pronouncements. One of the Vice Presidents should have assumed the seat on acting capacity. That was only going to be possible if FIFA as an institution was bigger than Blatter. Quite clearly the opposite is the case and with this reforms that he is now championing, he wants to rule from the grave!     



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