Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mohamed Bin Hammam to challenge Blatter's Presidency?

It was Douglas Adams in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe who said "One of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them: It is a well known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. Anyone who is capable of getting themselves into a position of power should on no account be allowed to do the job". It could be said that this is very much the case with the FIFA presidency.

Sepp "Bellend" (link) Blatter has governed FIFA with the opposite of aplomb for thirteen years. During this time, he's been able to say that he pushed for - and got - World Cups in Africa, the Middle East and Russia. He has also implemented smaller strides - shuffles? - forward, namely the recent banning of snoods. His tenure, which has so far coincided with the rise of Hawkeye technology and a faster-paced sport, will also be noted for his hesitancy in employing those technological advances in world football.

Perhaps he will be most remembered as the man who helmed an organisation unable or unwilling to deal with probable corrupt elements within its own ranks. His political legacy will be masked by his occasional monstrous gaffes, such as his comments for homosexual men to refrain from sex during the 2022 Cup in Qatar and accepting the Liberian Humane Order of African Redemption from dictator Charles Taylor. Sepp Blatter's no angel - he may even define his nickname and appears to the general populace as a power-mad, publicity-hungry buffoon. His reign isn't most notable for what he has done, but for what he has failed to achieve.

And he has a challenger for the presidency of FIFA, Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed Bin Hammam. The Qatari is a member of FIFA's 24-man Executive Committee and is widely expected to announce his intentions within the next ten days. The elections are held in Zurich over 31st May and 1st June and Bin Hammam - who has made noises about running for over a year - must surely both disappoint and scare Blatter after what can only be described as a frustrating past four years for football's tallest poppy.

Both men were seen as crucial figures in Qatar's successful World Cup bid in November, the potential challenger for his role as bid champion and the incumbent for his hearty endorsement. This was a curious move by the President given his options and was seen by skeptics and neutrals alike as an attempt to mollify Bin Hammam and his Asian brethren. In many ways, Qatar's bid could end up facing more scrutiny as a result of perhaps one more ham-fisted action from one of the world's most influential men - not an election promise per se, but a pre-election payoff to a potential opponent.

But let's not say categorically that Bin Hammam is a more appropriate choice to head football's governing body than Sepp. It's also no fait d'accompli that Blatter loses the election - Bin Hammam apparently seems confident of backing from Asia, America and Africa but, crucially, less so of European support. Just the simple fact that he does not have the unwavering support of the football world appears to unnerve Blatter. It should hardly come as a surprise.

According to Adams, those who seek to rule are the least suited to doing so. This creates a philosophy which questions the morals and motivation of every politician, which is both good and appropriate. Politicians and governments need to be questioned - not because their ideals aren't right (though occasionally this may be the case) but because their practices or actions are ineffective. Questions are good because questions (should) beget answers.

For too many years, FIFA has been hamstrung by allegations of conceit, corruption and vote-buying. Change must take place - under Blatter or Bin Hammam.

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