The FIFA Congress in São Paulo was incredible. The pampered pomp of FIFActors was matched by the pantomime and platitudes of the delegations. This was high theatre played out with the military precision of a clown show and a Potemkinite dedication to reality.
I came away from the FIFA congress knowing that there is almost no chance for reform of FIFA from the inside or outside. Here´s why:
The roll call of every FIFA affiliate took half an hour. Everyone was present. As shifting crosshairs zipped across the jumbo high definition screen zipped crosshairs to each of the 209 delgations, I was reminded of the global reach of football and the instrumental politics of FIFA conjured up by João Havelange. Blatter learnt from the master and has managed to keep control of global football through his political performance as a doddering grandfather. He is a man that inspires underestimation and continues to use this to his advantage.
Following roll call, the voting machines were tested but did not work. Delegates were instructed to use cards to would be held up for voting: green, white, red. A group of eight “scrutineers” which included footballing powerhouses Guinea, Vanuatu, Honuras and Jamaica was instructed to head to a corner of the conference hall. When votes happened they leapt to their feet to scrutinize the votes. As it turned out, being a scrutineer is akin to being a buccaneer.
FIFA is fantastically rich. It has 350 staff members and cash reserves of more than 1.4 billion. 2013 was the most lucrative year ever. It will bring in 4.5 billion from the World Cup of which 1.5 is profit. Every year, FIFA hands a check for 250,000 dollars to its member associations. This goes a long way in St. Kitts and Nevis, but not so far in Japan. These two countries have the same voting power in FIFA. Because there is so much money and FIFA is a non-profit of some kind, the money has to be re-invested. In a stroke of pre-lunch genius, the financial officer (of Julio Grondona´s financial committee) announced that each federation would now receive 750,000 a year and that the confederations would receive 4.5 million each per year. Time for lunch!
After lunch Blatter put a vote to the congress. Should there be an age limit for FIFA officers? Claro que não. Scrutineers? Claro que não.
Second vote. Should there be term limits for FIFA officer? Claro que não. Scrutineers? Claro que não.
Thus a pre-lunch delivery of money to federations and confederations paved the way for Blatter to run for a fifteenth term as president even though the most powerful confederation, UEFA, is calling for him to resign. Following these “votes” the honorable members from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Togo(?) took to the floor to sing Blatter´s name to the heavens. Blatter is a hero to the small guys, reviled by some of the big powers but that doesn´t matter. In Blatter´s democracy the kletptocrats and small tyrants rule the world.