FA still just playing the FIFA game

Back in November last year, the Sunday Times and the BBC’s Panorama made allegations of corruption against certain members of FIFA ExCo committee; the power holders in the world of football governance.

In an attempt to smooth over the perceived damage the reports had done (though, in retrospect, the horse had long since bolted), the FA condemned the journalists’ responsible for these allegations, stating their belief that the leading officials of FIFA were clean and the organisation was corruption free.

It’s amazing what a slight as big as the rejection of your World Cup bid can do to your beliefs and ethical standpoint.

The FA are now compiling their own report on the alleged corruption at FIFA (in particular, four members of the ExCo committee) which the former FA Chairman Lord Triesman made at a government Select Committee hearing last month.

One of the allegations made by Lord Triesman refers to a request from the lovable, all-round nice head of CONCACAF, Jack Warner, where he asked for £2.5 million to build a school. This request was made in May 2009, a full 18 months before the World Cup hosts were announced.

If alarm bells were raised at this point of the lack of transparency in the bidding system, then they must surely have been cleared up by the time the investigative journalists from the BBC and The Sunday Times made their allegations, no?

Furthermore, in some sort of statement against the world footballing authority, the FA is to abstain from the election for the next President of FIFA (despite the allegations, still to be held on Wednesday, ridiculously). Surely, if you plan to make a stand against a body you feel is corrupt; abstaining is not the correct way to go about it. Backing an anti-corruption candidate, such as the US sports journalist Grant Wahl’s campaign, would have been a better option to back if the FA wanted to invoke the moral high ground defence.

Despite the report being filed by the FA against FIFA, the English national body are still seeking to make sure (by abstaining) that whoever wins the election, they still have some say in the corridors of power, especially now that both candidates have allegations against them. It’s a simple case of saying to the winner “Well, we didn’t support the other guy, we’re still YOUR friend.”

Rather than making a genuine stand against the corruption they feel is there, they are still dancing along to FIFA’s tune. Rather than standing up and leading the fight to expel the corrupt (allegedly!) members of the ExCo committee, they are merely sidestepping the real issue. All in the name of self-preservation and to further their own cause, whilst also neatly trying to avoid scrutiny into their own affairs about why they were aware of ExCo members being “buyable” but still dismissing the allegations made by the Panorama documentary and ploughing on regardless with an £18 million doomed bid campaign.

Perhaps they would make themselves pariahs for the cause and this would leave them even more friendless in the world of football politics but the chance is there to make a real stand. Instead, we are left with a half-arsed, halfway house response, designed with the FA’s own interests in mind at both national and international level, which leaves real football people disaffected and disillusioned. Just like in November last year, the FA is leaving football high and dry in an attempt to look after itself and its position in a not dissimilar fashion to the people they are filing their corruption allegations against.

Elsewhere, after waiting a fortnight (presumably for the whole thing to blow over a bit), the FA-appointed regulatory commission has released its 86-page report into the Alejandro Faurlin case, which you can read here if you want some Sunday reading. Remember, the club were fined £875,000 for its role in the affair.

Essentially, the club was found not guilty of the most serious charge; of playing Faurlin for 18 months up until November 2010 whilst he was under the ownership of a third-party, a company called TYP. The commission found that an agreement was made between QPR and TYP for the latter to suspend their ownership rights throughout Faurlin’s first contract with QPR.

This is the charge with which QPR were found guilty of; failing to inform the FA of this agreement which the commission found gave the club a sporting advantage as it allowed them to observe whether Faurlin was good enough to play in the Championship before signing him outright.

This is where £800,000 of the fine comes from as it was the difference between the amount the club would have paid for him at the beginning of his contract (£200,000) and the amount he was worth once he had proven himself (£1 million) and how much QPR paid for him in November 2010 when his contract was renewed. The other £75,000 of the fine came from using an agent who was FIFA registered, but not authorised by the FA at the time.

The club were found to be acting in good faith towards the FA and it was deemed that a player such as Faurlin does not have the outstanding ability to dramatically improve a team’s performance.

What is strange is the club’s decision to say they originally signed Faurlin for £3.5 million when he first joined, a move the commission describes as either a “lie” or a “puff” to excite fans.

All in all, not the most shocking of outcomes but still an interesting insight in to how club’s operate with third-parties, particularly in South American football.

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