FIFA: The new policies that should be implemented

[1] A simple, but powerful message that scars football. Will the internal and external problems ever be solved?

For the past 4 months, I have been really preoccupied with assignments and could not update my blog as frequently as I would have liked to. Hopefully, this short post would ease me back into a string of articles.

 

I wanted to use this article as a medium to voice my opinion about the current situation in world football. We all call football as the ‘beautiful game’ in one way or another, with the legends of Pele, Ronaldinho, Eusebio, Platini, Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Charlton…still in our memory with their strong goalscoring pedigrees or silky skills. But when we look at the modern game, we can still pinpoint many issues at stake that need more attention. There are, in my opinion, four main problems that need to be resolved and this article will take this exact same structure: racism/political messages, refereeing, signings of players, the FIFA cadre team per se and the debate over the Brazil and Qatar World Cups.

 

1) Racism/political messages

My first article when I started blogging was on the racism in football during the Euro’s 2012. If you like, you could check it out here: http://sebr835.blogspot.hk/2012/07/how-euros-2012-in-poland-and-ukraine-is.html?updated-min=2012-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=11

 

In many countries, say Argentina, Brazil, Italy and Spain, the fans do not simply view football as a sport, but as a group identity. With this comes extremist ideals, one that sadly express many connotations of racism and fascism.For example, fans sometimes call out monkey chants at players with African origin like Balotelli, Eto’o, Constant and Boateng. [2] [3] [4] [5] There are some real-life footage of them deliberating leaving their respective matches to raise awareness in the references section below. This is detrimental to the modern game and disruptive to the whole notion of respect and equality that football tries to implement nowadays. It is not appropriate that any set of people or a group of players are fined a particular amount of money or a string of bans, able to be ‘excused’ easily and lightly. Effectively, some type of respectful policy should be undertaken so that fans and players alike need to show more respect, as the whole world – young and old are watching their every action.

 

Then, you have fascist or extreme-right political messages that players have exposed as a goal celebration. Di Canio, during his spell at Italian club Lazio, shot out his arm in a neo-Nazist salute. Di Canio has latched out and stated confidently that the gesture “was a Roman salute from a comrade to his comrades.” [6] Certainly, this does cause a stain on the ‘beautiful game’, but we should be careful with the limit and sensibility of our perspectives towards these players and their intentions as well. This is important, as recently Nicolas Anelka of West Bromwich Albion was heavily critcised on his ‘quenelle’ gesture. Many journalists and politicians have disgraced the veteran French international, branding his behaviour and actions as outrageous and unnecessary. [7] Shirt sponsors of the local team have even threatened to quit the contract over the incident. Morally, it is a powerful gesture, though, in Anelka’s defence, he did try to give a dedicating salute to his comedian friend, Dieudonné, and I really do not think it is as malicious as the press or the French sport minister, Foureynon, makes it out to be. [8] There has to be a limit of some sort, as these occasions could easily be misinterpreted. Let us see how the court case pans out in the coming weeks of February.

 

2) Refereeing

A second and next most important problem in football is the refereeing itself. There has been copious decisions that has turned tables, altering the course of play, in favour of the wrong team to win, draw or lose the match. If football is to improve as a sport overall, there should be more than simply replay decisions and goal-line technology – not simply the ones on the television or the ones that the FIFA board suggest in replica of rugby or tennis. [9] In my opinion, there should be more – the international football association should effectively inaugurate a first-person camera from the referee, as they are usually the one with the best view, yet often turn a blind or late eye to the situation at play. Never mind about the beauty of the debate over critical decisions – there should be more policies regarding pre-pressuring the refereeing in derby matches – say in Manchester City against Manchester United, Barcelona against Real Madrid, Arsenal against Tottenham, Juventus against AC Milan… Thus, by doing so, ultimately the level of correct decision-making and corruption could be minimsed more ably and fairly.

 

3) Signings of players 

Thirdly, it is more about the way in which signings of players across different domestic leagues are conducted. Sure, there are increasingly more foreign investors across leagues able to flex their financial muscles in the transfer market periods. However, this is not about the economic aspect I wanted to discuss – if any league is going to benefit from competition and bringing the best out of each other, then they undoubtedly more teams have to be in contention to win the league. It is highly unfortunate that in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, there are only two to four main title contenders, whereas the rest of the league is struggling to hold on to their stellar players and are often named as ‘selling clubs’. This has been where FIFA have intervened, forcing clubs with a “6+5” home-grown players policy in a club in 2010. [10] Nevertheless, after the idea was rejected by the board, whether the home-grown players are actually used really is debatable. Again, there could be a limit to the amount of international players that a club can bring in at one go – perhaps 10 players maximum (depending on the emergency situation), and a certain budget spent. After all, it is rather worrying that football players’ prices are inflated to extremely high prices despite their worth not always proven – or perhaps there should be a criteria of what constitutes to make a player in the 50 million dollars/pounds/euros bracket.

 

4) Brazil/Qatar World Cup

Most recently, there have been issues regarding the World Cup in Brazil and Qatar respectively. On the one hand, the economic problems regarding Brazil is affecting the domestic satisfaction with a recent violent riot in Sao Paolo. [11] Understandably, the Brazilians have voiced out their opinions that the government were more concerned about the World Cup than the poverty and inequality occurring within the country itself. Conversely, Qatar is another problem in world football. Normally, a World Cup in any sport represents a international gathering – celebrating a vast number of cultures side by side. However, with a conservative society in this case, taking place in Qatar, only means a limitation to how liberal the local society views other sets of people in terms of how they behave or dress – especially when others should accept different racial, sexual and gender conditions of their counterparts. In my opinion, if these situations are to improve, then there must be more realistic venues of where the World Cups will be at. It is only fair that every country comes under the world’s spotlight, but it should be achievable as well. The Qatar World Cup of 2022 after Russia in 2018, only means that the fixtures calendar in domestic leagues have to be completely altered to suit the players’ performance during this period. Playing in winter for the better part of 2 to 3 months only equates to another 6 months of available time to play, leaving the players heavily drained from their international campaigns in the World Cup. [12]

 

Effectively, all the aforesaid problems that are to be improved by the FIFA are a matter of respect and justice – racially, arbitrarily and team-wise. If football is to improve as a sport per se, it must be able to accommodate every type of race and sexual orientation, inside and outside of the football pitch. Moreover, as a sport, there should be as many policies to eradicate any chances of corruption at the cadre, refereeing and player levels. Personally, I think that, refereeing as the most important phenomenon discussed, should be tackled immediately – it is only partially implemented as a problem and critical decisions are still wrongly judged. This is not a case of if and when, but a matter of pragmatically doing so that the sport benefits more, and retains its appellation and appreciation of being the ‘beautiful game’. This could change if the FIFA cadre team took another form, so that the seemingly conservative and often inefficient approach towards many situations became more modern, more realistic and liberal towards discussing problems. After all, like any sport, there should be more transparency over international board’s policies – rather than a black and white view that is always painted across the canvas nowadays. Right, I hope you enjoyed this post – I certainly needed it to get me back into the groove once again. Ta! 🙂

 

References 

[1] http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/images/i/int@fifa09.gif

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaDmOZkJ6s0 

[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go_z3GTmUQI

[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG0RIpkEuDY

[5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrKbz9FuV34

[6] http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/europe/4544008.stm 

[7] http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/nicolas-anelka-quenelle-row-west-3033044 

[8] http://news.sky.com/story/1188259/anelkas-quenelle-gesture-praised-by-comic

[9] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/england/7857729/England-v-Germany-Fifa-want-better-refereeing-not-goal-line-technology.html

[10] http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/8733164.stm 

[11] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25900526 

[12] http://news.sky.com/story/1191990/qatar-world-cup-will-not-be-held-in-summer 

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