The 10 Who Could Force Change in 11

December 28, 2010 § 2 Comments

2011 could be a huge year for football. FIFA are teetering on the brink of public acceptance, their days as a diktat machine appear to be numbered. Our wish is for positive change, change which makes football the best it can possibly be. We believe there are 10 people and organisations who can influence the path of the game. Hopefully that is in a positive direction, but the reality may be very different…

10 ) Phillip Knight, Mark Parker, Nike

Nike are the dark horses in the future of football. Their wealth and reach into the game is such that if they chose to challenge the powerbase in Switzerland they could change the game overnight. Many of the greatest players owe large parts of their fortunes to Nike whilst their replica kit is worn in every corner of earth. We feel that change should not come from major companies or corporations alone, but the reality is that football is a multimillion pound business and the sharp business minds in Oregon will be only too pleased to see the current regime transformed into a modern, forward thinking organisation.

What are they most likely to do in 2011 for the future of football?

Stay low key. They won’t openly agitate for change, but will flex their muscles at the first sign of trouble.

9 ) Michel Platini, UEFA

Platini was arguably one of the greatest players who ever lived. He had it all, touch, grace, balance, vision and that extra star quality which has only touched a handful of players. As boss of UEFA many keen observers of the game believe that he is merely a puppet for Blatter. 2011 could be the year that he proves he is his own man and makes his move, whether that is in a positive direction will remain to be seen.

What is he most likely to do in 2011 for the future of football?

Replicate 2010 unless an opportunity arises to step up his plan to take the FIFA hotseat…

8 ) Michele Centenaro, ECA

The European Club Association are potentially the true powerbrokers in the game. Currently they are lying beneath the surface, observing what is happening whilst proclaiming a mutual respect for FIFA. Privately they must be sensitive to the current public mistrust of FIFA. Should they choose to bite then their power would be to much for FIFA to resist. As figurehead of the ECA Michele Centenaro is in a position of huge power. It is unlikely that he will want to make waves, but there will come a point when the major clubs will no longer tolerate more FIFA diktats. At this point he may well entre the fray…

What is he most likely to do in 2011 for the future of football?

Quietly seek the opinion of clubs.

7 ) Herbert Hainer, adidas

Adidas are a huge part of the story of FIFA. The boss, Herbert Hainer is perhaps one of the most influential men in sport. Negative connections are not good for his group and he must be peturbed by the inability of the ExCo to, at the minimum, avoid controversy. Pressure from him and adidas towards FIFA would be extremely difficult for Blatter to ignore. It is doubtful that he will openly confront FIFA, he is much more likely to make his feelings known behind closed doors. That, for us, is not ideal. We want to see football become truly open and the days of backroom deals ended, even if intentions are good.

What is he most likely to do in 2011 for the future of football?

Ask pertinent questions behind the scenes whilst staying loyal to the status quo.

6 ) Theo Van Seggelen, FIFPro

Without players there would be no football, the World Cup FIFA would be nothing if there were no superstars to earn vast sponsorship contracts. FIFPro, the federation of professional players worldwide, hold more power than perhaps even they realise themselves. 2011 is the year this organisation can step forwards into the public conscience and demand positive change. We don’t believe striking is a wise idea, but finding a collective players voice and making it heard loud and clear would more than help tip the balance into a new era for football.

What is he most likely to do in 2011 for the future of football?

Although hesitant at first he will canvas the opinions of players, ‘are they happy with the way FIFA run football?’

5 ) The Media

The scourge of FIFA is hated with a venomous passion behind the closed doors of the ExCo. Free speech is not allowed and must be driven into football dirt, unless it has been vetted for discomforting stories. The media can force change by refusing to be kept quiet and releasing stories which are in the best interests of the game. The media can also champion and publicise positive moves to reform FIFA. By reporting on efforts to force positive change they inform the public – that is priceless.

What are they most likely to do in 2011 for the future of football?

Continue to report on FIFA, yet with added vigour. They will push for positive change in the game.

4 ) Barack Obama, USA

When Obama came to power there was a huge surge of positivity around the world. The level of goodwill towards a US President was like never before. That popularity has waned over the past couple of years, but by demanding that the ‘people’s game’ is returned to them he could turn his global approval ratings back into the high numbers again. Soccer is probably the last thing on his mind right now, but we have made moves to seek his help. If he listens and gets involved and believes in positive change at the top of the game, it could well be game on.

What is he most likely to do in 2011 for the future of soccer?

Stay out of ‘soccer politics’ and offer polite concern.

3 ) Lionel Messi

One of the finest sights in the world is Lionel Messi darting inbetween defenders on a path towards goal. It is a truly breathtaking experience. We believe that he can use the FIFA player awards ceremony as a platform to demand change at FIFA. If the best player on earth demands change, how can FIFA deny him his wish?

What is he most likely to do in 2011 for the future of football?

Say ‘the right things’ and concentrate on playing his game.

2 ) David Bernstein, The FA

As the figurehead of the FA – the founders of the first football association, David Bernstein sits in a unique position. On behalf of Ebenezer Cobb Morley he has a duty to demand that the values he stood for are upheld. He has a battle on his hands, but he must take it on for the sake of football past, present and future.

What is he most likely to do in 2011 for the future of football?

Ease into his new job as Chairman of The FA, keep a keen eye on FIFA yet ultimately avoid trouble.

1 ) Joseph S. Blatter, FIFA

The only man in the world who could, right now if he wanted, change football for the better. Trust in his leadership is staggering around lower than it ever has before, which is saying something, but he could win large slabs of trust back by pledging to create a new and open FIFA starting with an open and blunt cull of the current culture.

What is he most likely to do in 2011 for the future of football?

Resist change and plough on with his plans.

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Messi, Legend?

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

John Lennon once said “Music is everybody’s possession, it’s only publishers who think people own it” He’d probably say the same about football and substitute publishers for FIFA, if he were alive today. What made him great were his tunes, what made him legendary was his spirit. He wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed to be right.

Lionel Messi is great, there is no doubt about that, but he could be a legend – all he needs to do is channel Lennon’s spirit. The FIFA player awards in early 2011 would be a great place to start. Imagine if he stood up and refused to accept his inevitable award and instead called for the game to be given back to those who make it the wonder that it is? He could tell Blatter that he didn’t want the award and instead wanted a FIFA that respected players and fans, free speech and open debate on the future of the game. With that Messi could alter the course of the game forever. There would hardly be a lover of the game who wouldn’t cheer him on and stand by him.

Messi is, of course, different to Lennon. He is shy and is hardly a compelling orator. It is unlikely that he would take the risk despite being the most famous player on earth. That does not mean that he couldn’t stand up and speak for the game. It would take some nerve on his part, but then again, this is the man who regularly humiliates the best defenders on earth in front of millions.

He wouldn’t need to humiliate anyone who loves the game, even the suits in the crowd who would shuffle uncomfortably in their plush seats. He would only tell the truth – football needs to change. How could FIFA possibly deny him? There is a very good chance that they would try, but it would be too late. His speech would be news in every corner of the world. Messi would go from being great to being a legend. He would spark a course of change that would change the game for the better.

Lennon might tell him “there is nothing you can do that can’t be done…”

 

FIFPro and the Destiny of Football

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

FIFPro, in case you didn’t know (and a lot of people don’t) is the Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels. They are effectively the international voice of the players. Around 42 countries have signed up since its formation in 1965. 50,000 players are represented. Their President changes regularly, currently Gordon Taylor OBE of the English PFA is in the hotseat. He is backed up by General Secretary Theo Van Seggelen of Holland.

Our view is that FIFPro can decide on the destiny of football.

Players are the game, without them there would not be a game and no FIFA. Sadly players appear to be undervalued by FIFA.

Platini and Beckenbauer sit on their Executive Committee yet it is highly debatable that they take their seats to champion the rights of players. The remaining 20 are even less likely to be thinking of players when they cast their votes. Why does Jack Warner decide on pivotal questions for the game, yet Theo Van Seggelen does not? This is a ridiculous situation.

We believe that FIFPro should hold a referendum on the big question in football, they should ask their players for their collective standpoint. A confidence vote on FIFA.

Q: Do you have confidence in FIFA to govern world football?

A no vote would be impossible for FIFA to ignore. FIFPro have the ability to go to their players with this question. They annually invite their members to choose their player of the year with success, therefore asking them this question should, in theory, be equally as achievable.

Theo Van Seggelen is a man who genuinely cares about players, he is energetic and enthusiastic when discussing them. His position as FIFPro General Secretary puts him in a unique position, he can legitimately ask all pro-players for their opinion – something FIFA seemingly does not want to do, or can not do.

Theo, please, go to your players – ask them, are they happy? Do they want their game to be run the way it is? They must be made aware that world governance of football can be changed, it can be democratic and transparent, open and fair. It does not have to ruled like an ancient monarchy or a private club. A change in football does not have to be a dream, it can be reality if everyone shares the dream. The players are in the best position to make change happen if they are listened to. FIFPro, the destiny of football is in your hands…

An Open Letter to the FIFA President

December 15, 2010 § 6 Comments

Dear Joseph,

You can still be a hero.

At this moment the future of football lies in your hands – and it has nothing to do with legacy projects in new frontiers. It has everything to do with the people who feel alienated from FIFA. Sadly, that is just about everyone who watches and plays the game.

It is no secret that you would love to end your career with a Nobel Peace Prize. That is quite some aim, but a noble one. Two of the five main parts of the Prize, as stipulated by Alfred Nobel are that the winner must show their best work towards the promotion of fraternity between nations and the holding and promotion of peace congresses. At this moment in time it is fair to say that you are falling way short in those two areas.

FIFA’s convoluted voting processes, backroom deals and secrecy hardly allow for fraternity between nations. In terms of holding peace congresses your recent press conference and answers you gave to reasonable questions about homosexual fans and players travelling to Qatar fell way short of promoting peace. Many people were deeply offended and angry about those comments, whilst there is barely a football fan with any passing interest in the game who isn’t suspicious about the machinations of FIFA decision making, transparency and motives.

It does not have to be like this. If you were to call for a complete restructuring of FIFA which led to a democratic, transparent and fair FIFA – one which valued and respected those who make it the wonder that it is – your Nobel Prize would be nailed on. If you were to radically modernise the Presidential voting process and allow fresh ideas to enter the FIFA system you would be a hero to those who have grown disillusioned and depressed at the state of the game. We are talking hundreds of millions of people.

Think about it on a personal level. Does being deeply unpopular feel good? Imagine how it would feel to be the hero of the game as opposed to quite possibly the least popular person in its history. The choice is yours, openly and vigorously modernise FIFA and the positive effect would be your lifetime legacy, a legacy to be extremely proud of.

You can still be a hero.

 

Good luck,

ChangeFIFA

 

Live Debate on the Future of Football

December 10, 2010 § 6 Comments

(Update, see below)

We are working to set up a live debate on the future of world football governance. The plan is to hold this in Barcelona sometime in early 2011 and broadcast it live over the internet and television. FIFA and Blatter will be invited to attend, as will key people in the football industry from players, coaches and managers to politcians, journalists, administrators, agents, sponsors, tea ladies and most importantly – the fans. Ideally we would like to be able to provide fans the opportunity to vote online on propositions put forward. The ability to submit ideas and thoughts will also be hugely important.

The aim of the debate is not to generate lots of hot air that will evaporate, but to define a clear plan for the direction of the governance of world football that is workable, democratic and transparent. Our belief is that rather than fawn to FIFA, politicians must stand up and demand change on behalf their electorate. They need to take an active role in demanding democracy, just as they do so forcefully elsewhere – this is why we believe they must attend. An equal share in The Beautiful Game has to be a right of any lover of the game whose pulse has raced at the thought it, their electorate. That FIFA operates as an unaccountable organisation in 2011 is plain wrong and unfair – this debate will be a major step on the road to ending the failed status-quo.

We are committed to helping to return the game back to the people; we believe an open, high level debate with a purpose is a great place to start real hard nosed visible change.

We will post more information as the plan develops.

Update:

We are getting closer to announcing a date and venue. We have also been working hard to find a broadcaster and panelists (including Mr.Blatter). Our main drive is the belief that it is good to talk before making decisions, it is also good to ask fans what they think. One of the things we are also working on is a live voting system so viewers can vote on motions and ideas put forward.

Again, we’ll keep you posted as and when we have news.

The Momentum Starts

December 5, 2010 § 2 Comments

ChangeFIFA is extremely grateful to all those on Twitter and Facebook who are supporting the drive to create an open and transparent world governing body for football. It is important to make a couple of points clear: ChangeFIFA was not created as a backlash against England’s failure in the bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Nor was it created as a negative response to Russia or Qatar’s successes in their respective bidding processes. It was created months previously, as a campaign to create a world governing body for football that anyone who loves the sport could be proud of.

As many have pointed out, legally challenging FIFA’s hold on football could be a ‘minefield’. There are two choices: either do nothing, or act to make a positive change. Doing nothing allows the failed status quo to continue and that is no longer acceptable. This is why ChangeFIFA will not stop until fans and players get a world governing body that respects them.

Currently there are two clear options to achieve this goal:

1. Form a new world governing body for football. This would almost certainly require national associations to break from FIFA. They would do so because of their belief that FIFA no longer has the best interests of football at heart. They would insist that any replacement organisation must be both democratically appointed and independently audited. They would also insist that this new governing body must be financially transparent.

2. Reform FIFA in its current form. A reform of FIFA is the most workable of the two options, but to be successful the organisation needs a complete overhaul. The ‘house of football’ will require a purge and rigorous renovation. Half measures will only lead to doubt.

Option 1 is the most ambitious, yet most dynamic option. To work it would need at least 3 national associations of high stature to come to an agreement. This would force a tipping point and almost certainly lead to a mass breakaway.

There is little to no chance that FIFA would voluntarily agree to either transparency or a complete restructuring. This means that option 2 would require a combination of intense legal and political pressure alongside the current force of mass public desire for change. It is probably true to say that trust in FIFA for the majority of informed fans and players has reached breaking point. As a consequence, it is probable that any moves on FIFA’s part to self-renovate or restructure themselves would be met with a high degree of cynicism.

Over the coming weeks we will seek to expedite the process of change. Now is the time to see it through. We have already spoken with current players and retired legends of the game to seek their opinion and support. In all cases they believe in what we are working towards. We have also approached national associations and politicians. We understand that many fans have severe misgivings about them, but the reality is that for complete reform to take place they must play their part. The most important people in the transformation of world football however, are the fans — and that includes those who work in the media. To change FIFA we need your support and input. ChangeFIFA IS the fans. Your continued support is not just massively appreciated — it is vital.

Thank you.

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A note on FIFA:

In any large organisation, controversial leadership can lead to ordinary employees suffering by association. FIFA is no exception. There are many decent and honest people who work for FIFA. We do not bear any grudge against these people, nor do we believe it is fair for them to be tarred with the same brush as the Executive Committee. In the event of a new governing body of world football being created, these talented, football-loving people will be key to its success. After all, the majority of good people who work for FIFA do so because of the same passion for the sport that we all share.

IS CHANGE AT FIFA NEEDED?

August 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

Andrew Jennings, with his back to the wall…

There is a man in England who has taken FIFA to task repeatedly over the years, his name is Andrew Jennings. His probing investigative journalism has not been welcome at FIFA HQ. They would rather he didn’t exist. They claim his stories are bad for the image of the game. Our suggestion is that you read his website and make your own mind up.

Follow this link to read Transparency in Sport

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