FIFA is holding its 63rd Congress in Mauritius on 31 May 2013 and there have already been several articles in the local papers about this important event. At this juncture we have thought it opportune to say something about FIFA, its history, and how it is being administered. For this purpose we have consulted various sources, such as Wikipedia, for information.
FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was founded in Paris on 21 May 1904. Its first president was Robert Guérin, but in 1906 he was replaced by Daniel Woolfall from England. FIFA is an association established under the Laws of Switzerland and its headquarters are in Zurich. The supreme body is the FIFA Congress, an assembly made up of representatives from each affiliated member association. Only the Congress can pass changes to FIFA’s statutes. Congress elects the President, the General Secretary and the other members of the Executive Committee on the year following the FIFA World Cup. Each national football association has one vote, regardless of its size or footballing strength. In total, FIFA recognises 209 national associations and their associated men’s national teams as well as 129 women’s national teams.
The President and General Secretary are the main officeholders of FIFA. They are in charge of its daily administration, carried out by the General Secretariat, with its staff of approximately 280 members. FIFA’s Executive Committee, chaired by the President, is the main decision-making body of the organisation in the intervals of Congress.
 The current President of FIFA is Joseph « Sepp » Blatter, a Swiss football administrator. He was elected in 1998, succeeding the Brazilian João Havelange. Blatter was re-elected as President in 2002, 2007 and again in 2011. Amazingly, as if four consecutive terms were not enough, Sepp Blatter has suggested that he might stand for another term in office in 2015. He will then be 79 years old. It seems Blatter wishes to emulate Havelange who stayed at the head of FIFA for some twenty years….
By the way, it came to light in June 2011 that the IOC had started inquiry proceedings against João Havelange into claims of bribery. A BBC Panorama programme alleged that the Brazilian accepted a $1 million ‘bung’ in 1997 from International Sports Leisure (ISL).
As for Blatter, his 2002 candidacy was marked with rumours of financial irregularities with direct accusations of bribery made by Farra Ado, vice-president of the Confederation of African Football and president of the Somali Football Federation, who claimed to have been offered $100,000 to vote for Blatter in 1998. Several of FIFA’s partners and sponsors have raised concerns about the allegations of corruption. When the football world learned that Qatar had succeeded in obtaining the bid for the organization of the 2022 World Cup, at the expense of such footballing nations as South Korea, Australia, Japan and the United States, it was obvious that petrodollars had changed hands. FIFA’s choice to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has been widely criticised by media. It has been alleged that gifts were given to some FIFA executive members to secure the Russian 2018 bid weeks before the result was announced. As for Qatar, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke issued a statement saying that the country had « used its financial muscle to lobby for support.  » By ‘financial muscle’ we understand this must infer that petrodollars had played a big part ! Even U. S President Barack Obama said that FIFA made « the wrong decision » in awarding Qatar the tournament in 2022. Despite winning four terms as President, Blatter has often been dogged by controversy.
In May 2006 British investigative reporter Andrew Jennings’ book Foul ! The Secret World of FIFA : Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals caused an uproar within the football world by detailing an alleged international cash-for-contracts scandal. The book also alleged that vote-rigging had occurred in the fight for Sepp Blatter’s continued control of FIFA. Australian Sports Minister Mark Arbib said it was clear FIFA needed to change, saying “there is no doubt there needs to be reform of FIFA. This is something that we’re hearing worldwide”. Theo Zwanziger, President of the German Football Association, called on FIFA to re-examine the awarding of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar. Transparency International, which had called on FIFA to postpone the election pending a full independent investigation, renewed its call on FIFA to change its governance structure. According to several critics, Sepp Blatter’s World Cup plans show no respect for logic, or football. The FIFA president wants more Asian teams in the World Cup, but it is believed his proposals will help nothing except his own political future. No wonder then that he did not dare attend the Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund that took place at Wembley recently – probably for fear of being whistled ! In his article ‘Soccer-Survivor Blatter seeks safe haven in Mauritius’ Mike Collet of Reuters writes ‘If Blatter succeeds in persuading Congress to vote his way, it will strengthen his hand and could tempt him to seek a fifth term of office in 2015, despite his earlier promise that the current mandate would be his last. ‘ Obviously, some people surround themselves with yes-men and thus make sure they get re-elected time and again. They should be compared with the likes of Nelson Mandela.
 After his term in office as President of South Africa, 80-year-old Nelson Mandela did not seek re-election although he was in good health and still as popular as ever. He voluntarily stepped down from power to make room for somebody younger than him. Incidentally Dr Brock Chisholm, a Canadian World War One veteran who became the first Director-General of the World Health Organization, refused to stand for re-election at the end of his mandate, maintaining that top officials of International Organizations should make it a matter of principle to leave after their term in office. Men like Brock Chisholm and Nelson Mandela deserve all our praise, but unfortunately, very few leaders follow their examples and show such selflessness.
FIFA’s annual Congress in Mauritius will decide whether to impose age limits for senior FIFA officials as well as limiting the number of mandates they can serve, which is currently unlimited. President Sepp Blatter has recently reaffirmed his opposition to the idea, saying that proposed age limits for FIFA officials could be considered as a form of discrimination ! It is a pity that some people try so hard to cling to power. No wonder, even super star Diego Maradona was critical of FIFA, comparing members of the board to dinosaurs. He said « FIFA is a big museum. They are dinosaurs who do not want to relinquish power…  » Some people think that they are the very best at their respective jobs, but they should know better. They should realize that however smart they may think they are, there is bound to be somebody smarter. Blatter has had it so good for so many years that he does not want to leave this FIFA presidential post at any cost. It is evident that Sepp Blatter is more of a Big Business tycoon than anything else and that he is trying to cling to the post of FIFA President as long as possible because it means a lot of power and glory. Definitely, the guy must now go, for the sake of football…