FIFA's presidential election
Beautiful game, ugly politics
Pity the republic of football. It has a government much like many another
May 26th 2011 | from The Economist print edition
IN ZURICH on June 1st a presidential election is due to take place. It is a rare event, the first since 2002, with a mere 208 voters. No incumbent has lost since 1974, and the man in possession is expected to win again. The winner, despite his grand title, will not be a head of state. Yet he will be better known than many who are—and his writ, unlike any of theirs, runs the world over. The presidency in question is that of FIFA, the global governing body of association football; the electors are its members, national associations. Sepp Blatter, a Swiss, has had the job for 13 years and thinks he deserves four more.
On May 25th his only challenger, Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari who was once an ally, faced an unexpected obstacle: allegations of bribery involving him and Jack Warner, a Trinidadian who heads a regional confederation with 35 FIFA members. The claims were made by Chuck Blazer, the American general secretary of Mr Warner’s group, who sits with both men on FIFA’s 24-member executive committee (in effect, its cabinet). FIFA’s ethics committee is due to examine the claims on May 29th. The accused deny wrongdoing.
5月25日，他的唯一挑战者、也是曾经的盟友卡塔尔人穆罕默德??本??哈曼(Mohamed bin Hammam)遭遇一个意想不到的障碍：他与来自特立尼达岛的杰克??沃纳(Jack Warner)因涉嫌贿赂而受到指控，后者是拥有35名国际足联成员的地区性组织的主席（译者注：即中北美和加勒比海地区足联）。该项指控是由美国人查克??布拉泽（Chuck Blazer）提出的，他是沃纳先生任主席的足联的秘书长，同时两人都为由24人组成的国际足联执委会（实质就是国际足联的内阁）的成员。国际足联道德委员会将于29日审查该项指控。被指控者均否认了指控。
To some, FIFA’s politics stank even before this. Earlier this month the former chairman of the Football Association, which runs the game in England, told British MPs that four members of the executive committee, which decides where World Cups should be held, had asked for, or hinted at wanting, payment in cash, kind or honour for their votes on the 2018 tournament. (Mr Warner was one of them.) The British press has unearthed other claims regarding votes for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. Those involved in all this deny doing wrong; and accusations from Britain carried a whiff of bad grace, because England’s bid for 2018 failed miserably. The latest claims, though, come from the heart of FIFA’s political structure.
For good or ill, FIFA has much in common with governments whose territories are marked by customs posts rather than goalposts. Like national governments, sporting bodies provide collective goods for their citizens, notes Stefan Szymanski, an economist at in London. They also raise revenue and redistribute wealth. And they are prone to poor administration and to “rent-seeking”—attempts by interest groups, officials and other well-connected people to use their position to gain influence or wealth.
Start with public goods: in sport, the rules are the most fundamental. Football’s “laws” are overseen by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), on which FIFA has four votes and the national associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have one each, a legacy of the game’s British birth. Six votes are needed for a decision. To many coaches and players, as well as commentators and fans, the IFAB has been too slow to allow modern technology, rather than officials’ eyesight, to decide whether the ball has crossed the goal-line. Many other sports have embraced video and electronic gadgetry at their higher levels.
首先从集体财产说起：在运动中，规则是最根本的。足球的“法律”由国际足球联合理事会（International Football Association Board）监督，这个组织共有八名成员，其中四名来自国际足联，另外四名来自该运动的诞生地英国：英格兰、北爱尔兰、苏格兰和威尔士各一票。要通过一个决定需要六票。对很多教练和运动员以及评论家和球迷来说，在让现代科技而不是官员们的势力来决定到底一个球是不是进了这个问题上国际足球联合理事会的许可太慢了。其他很多运动在较高水平的比赛中已经引进了录像和电子器械。
A sport’s governors are also supposed to crack down on match-fixing. Football has been dogged by scandals in this area. The latest involved gambling rings in Asia and eastern Europe, and matches ranging from the lower reaches of European leagues to friendly internationals. On May 9th Mr Blatter announced a joint effort with Interpol, the global police agency, to stamp out this blight.
In a clearer example of a public good, football’s masters have helped create a global market in talent and entertainment. This reflects a shift in FIFA’s balance of power away from Europe which began in the 1970s, in healthy contrast with Euroheavy bodies like World Bank and the IMF. When Mr Blatter’s predecessor, Jo??o Havelange, a Brazilian, ousted Sir Stanley Rous, an Englishman, in 1974 it was partly by promising non-Europeans more places at the World Cup. The 1978 tournament featured only 16 national teams, ten of them from Europe; since 1998 there have been 32 slots, with more for Asia, Africa, and North and Central America or the Caribbean.
足球也对公众有有利的一面，一个比较清晰的例子是足球管理者们帮助创造了一个既有才华又不乏娱乐的全球性市场。这反映了国际足联的力量平衡从20世纪70年代以欧洲为重心转移了出来，与此形成对比的是欧元区一些臃肿的机构，如世界银行（World Bank）和国际货币组织(IMF)。布拉特先生的前任巴西人乔??阿维兰热（Joao Havelange）.在1974年把英国人斯坦利??鲁斯爵士（Sir Stanley Rous）赶下台，他成功的部分原因是他承诺为更多非欧洲国家提供世界杯的席位。1978年举办的世界杯只有16支国家队参赛，其中10支来自欧洲。自1998年起，世界杯决赛阶段参赛国一直是32个，亚洲、非洲和中北美或加勒比海地区得到更多的名额。
This has not stopped European countries winning the past two World Cups. And it has helped Europe’s clubs and national leagues. Teams such as Barcelona and Manchester United, who meet in the European Champions League final in London on May 28th, have fans all over the world. That means more money from television and merchandise. Globalisation has also deepened the pool of talent on which European clubs can draw.
Yet there are costs for clubs in Europe and elsewhere. They must release their players for World Cup and other international matches, from which the stars may return tired or hurt. They may view this as a tax in kind, even though FIFA paid them $40m in all for the use of players in the 2010 World Cup.
FIFA may not raise true taxes, but it finds revenue easier to come by than many national governments do. It has become increasingly adept at exploiting the power of the World Cup to draw a global audience. “France [in 1998] was the last poor World Cup,” said Mr Blatter this week. In 2007-10 FIFA’s revenue was $4.2 billion, up from $2.6 billion in the four years before that. Most of it came from the 2010 World Cup: television rights yielded $2.4 billion and marketing rights $1.1 billion.
Redistribution in FIFA’s fief is called “development” spending, intended mainly to improve facilities and coaching in poor countries, which amounted to $794m in 2007-10. Some of this went into Goal, a programme set up by Mr Blatter that is now overseen by Mr Bin Hammam. The six regional confederations and the national associations also got an extra handout from the World Cup windfall in the form of “extraordinary” payments within FIFA’s Financial Assistance Programme. Finding a little extra money for voters just before an election is rarely a bad idea.
As for poor government, FIFA has been supplying examples for years. Take, as just one, the ditching in 2006 of MasterCard, FIFA’s long-term credit-card partner, for Visa—a decision which drew a scathing rebuke from a New York judge. Andrew Jennings, a British journalist who has long been a thorn in FIFA’s side, aired further claims of pockets lined and sins covered up in a BBC documentary on May 23rd.
Despite all this, FIFA’s electors have not seemed ready for revolution. What effect the allegations against Mr Bin Hammam will have, no one knows. It is also hard to say how much would change should he, despite everything, manage to unseat Mr Blatter. Both men insist that FIFA is not corrupt; Mr Bin Hammam has made much of the need for more “transparency”. Certainly, the world’s most popular game needs a better government than the one it has.