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Cry Freedom – FIFA Fair Play

Cry Freedom – FIFA Fair Play

The 8th President of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) is the second longest serving President. From a background of business, public relations and sports administration, Blatter became general secretary of FIFA in 1981 and was then elected president at the 51st FIFA Congress; the highest organ of FIFA, on the 8th of June 1998, succeeding JOAO Havelange, who has headed the organisation since 1974, the longest serving president of FIFA in modern history. FIFA founded in 1904 has had to date only 9 presidents and some 192 associations.

FIFA a close knit organisation has always been shrouded in secrecy and plagued by allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement. Blatter’s reign oversaw a vast expansion in revenues generated by FIFA World cup accompanied by the collapse of the Marketing Company International Sport and Leisure and numerous allegations of curruption in the bidding processes for the awarding of FIFA tournaments.

My dear reader, I am sure you will be wondering what this has got to do with SLFA, Isha Johansen and our current suspension? Quite a lot actually, if you would bear with me. There are so many parallels in our stories that one can see the aptness of the latin addage “Sub umbra feoderis aequi, severtitum patti possimus”.

On the 2nd of June 2015, six days after the United States government indicted several current and former FIFA officials and sports marketing companies for bribery and money laundering, Blatter announced that he would call for elections to choose a new president of FIFA and that he would not stand in these elections, but he also said he would remain in position until an extraordinary FIFA congress could be held for his successor to be elected. Criminal proceedings were announced against Blatter by the Swiss Atttorney General’s office on 25th  of September 2015, regaring “Criminal mismanagement and missappropriation. In October 2015 Blatter and other top FIFA officials were suspended amid the investigation in the spirit of international best practice. In December 2016 the independent FIFA Ethics Committee ejected Blatter from office and banned him from taking part in any FIFA activities over the following eight years. On appeal, on the 24th of February 2016, a FIFA appeals committee upheld the suspension but reduced it from eight to six years. Issa Hayaton served as the acting president of FIFA until an extraordinary FIFA Congress was held in late February, electing Gianni Infantino as the 9th president of FIFA.

At no time in all of this did we hear of FIFA suspending the U.S.A or Switzerland from football. This smacks of the highest level of double standards. What suddenly is good for the goose is not good for the gander. Sierra Leone has been slammed an indefinite suspension for actions very reminiscent of the above narrated scenario. The Swiss Athorney General can charge Blatter with an offense but apparently our anti-graft agency cannot being charges against one of our own without dire consequences.

A high powered delegation is currently in Zurich trying to get FIFA to reverse its suspension order. To date not much is known of the outcome of the said meeting with FIFA but the delegation is hopeful that they can plead a fairly reasonable case for Sierra Leone.

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