The totalitarian state - From a concerned football fan
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not necessarily represent the views of Sportskeeda.
Very often, you’d find that inside a totalitarian state, like that of China, Syria, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Belarus or even Russia, there are so many things about it that are so good but it is because of the regime, the outside world in general has a very poor opinion on the countries. This need not be just in politics, there is politics everywhere and even though it is always said that sport should be independent from politics, we still can’t separate the two, can we?
Well, with the conclusion of the 65th Congress of FIFA, it was inevitable that the public was going to go gaga following the re-election of the controversial president Sepp Blatter despite the wake of the recent corruption scandal that has hit the headlines, yet another time, where FIFA has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The previous prominent one being four years ago where the World Cup for 2018 and 2022 was unexpectedly awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively, making it very clear that the organisation was being taken over by oligarchs and sheikhs. This re-election from the outside simply implies Blatter would have ruled the beautiful game for nearly twenty years, since 1998.
Why is Belarus called a totalitarian state? It does have elections, but then, the elections aren’t exactly fair, there is only one person (Lukashenko, in this case) who gets a thumping victory every time such elections are held and Belarus hasn’t seen any other president till date.
But in comparison, Blatter doesn’t seem to be much different from Lukashenko, barring the fact that his reign started four years after that of the latter, but then, their tactics aren’t a lot different, like in 2011, how Blatter abused his presidential powers to get both his nearest rivals suspended, being Mohammed bin Hammam (AFC) and Jack Warner (CONCACAF) just before the 61st Congress.
I believe FIFA has seen more presidents only because it has been alive for a time longer than the Republic of Belarus. The recent one goes without saying, Blatter lobbied enough to get support for his re-election despite the fierce opposition from the all-powerful UEFA; who were vocal about their support for the Hashemite Prince Ali (ignore the irony of a Hashemite running for power, they normally just get it).
As far as the lobbying is concerned, I’d just take the example of my own country of residence, the president of All India Football Federation (AIFF) – Praful Patel, gave a press interview declaring India’s support for Blatter and didn’t offer any valid justification as to why he was rooting for Blatter.
It’d be interesting to know that Patel actually happens to be a politician from a party called the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), often parodied as Naturally Corrupt Party and so, I guess Blatter couldn’t have asked for a better ally.
But jokes apart, to think of it a little seriously, the larger question arises, is FIFA really the democratic organisation acting in the best interests of the beautiful game?
The misfortune about FIFA’s democratic structure is that, the presidential candidate, in most cases just needs to gain the favour of one person from each country to become the guardian of the most followed sport in the world.
Taking my own Praful Patel example, as far as I know, a significant share of ardent football fans whom I have spoken to in India were absolutely against the re-election of Blatter but still, it absolutely doesn’t matter, you get a headline in BBC World News saying that ‘India supports Blatter’ as that man has managed to lobby enough to gain the support of one person in the country.