Zurich, May 30 (IANS) The world soccer’s governing body FIFA has been embroiled in a deep crisis as several senior officials, including FIFA vice president Jeffery Webb, were arrested on May 27 in Zurich, Switzerland ahead of the 65th FIFA Congress.
Amid the biggest storm that has hit the 111-year-old organisation, Sepp Blatter was re-elected for the fifth time as the FIFA president at the congress on Friday.
“I am held responsible for the storm. OK yes I accept this responsibility,” he said before the voting started.
“I promise a strong FIFA, I want to climb back up the hill, arrange FIFA’s situation. I want a beautiful FIFA, and strong enough to get out of the storm,” he added, Xinhua news agency reported.
FIFA had acted quickly, banning provisionally 11 individuals from carrying out any soccer-related activities on a national and international level, including those arrested officials.
But for some pundits, the scandal engulfing FIFA is less about people but more about a system that is difficult to change.
German football legend Franz Beckenbauer said: “It’s not the man himself (who is to blame).”
“Theo Zwanziger (former president of the German football federation) once said something clever: ‘It’s not the person but the system’. It’s very difficult to change the system,” said Beckenbauer, who has won the World Cup as a player and a coach.
“How can you control 209 countries and regions? You’re always going to have a few irregularities. We need a new system. I’m not sure which one,” explained the 69-year-old.
Beckenbauer’s opinions were also echoed by Wei Jizhong, former vice president of the Chinese Olympic Committee.
Wei said: “Football has been over commercialised. With gambling and manipulation with intermediate agents involved, the game is out of control,” he said.
FIFA takes in billions of dollars in revenue from television marketing rights and sponsorships, making it one of the wealthiest and most powerful sports bodies in the world. Dogged by corruption scandals for decades, FIFA has usually done self-investigation to avoid scrutiny by criminal courts.
“The next few months will not be easy for FIFA. I am sure more bad news will follow but it is necessary to begin to restore trust,” Blatter said in his opening address at the congress on Thursday.
“We cannot allow the reputation of soccer and FIFA to be dragged through the mud any longer. It has to stop here,” he added.
Blatter called the scandals “unprecedented” and said the “actions of individuals bring shame and humiliation on soccer and demand action and change from us all”.
The president said FIFA cannot be an “exception” to rules on corruption and added “we will cooperate with all authorities to make sure that anyone involved in wrongdoing – from top to bottom – will be discovered and punished.”