Barack Obama might well have been busying himself with his penultimate State of the Union address this week, but in the world of football, politics has also taken centre stage, surrounding the future of FIFA once more. David Ginola, French international winger of the past, has put forward his name as a challenger to Sepp Blatter and is currently off on a publicity junket to try and drum up the support he needs, both in terms of finance and football associations, to take Blatter on in this year’s vote.
By Dave Bowler
The first battle that Ginola will face is establishing his credibility. Having been largely out of the game since his playing days ended, having shown neither interest nor aptitude for administration and now being backed by a publicity hungry betting firm, he does not have the finest credentials.
That said, his early musings have been very interesting. Showing a typically Gallic penchant for the concepts of “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”, Ginola’s platform calls for democracy, transparency and equality and you can’t help but agree with those principles, albeit that at this early stage, he’s a little sketchy on the details.
Nonetheless, it is a platform that will likely strike a chord or two with the “normal fan” that Ginola clearly sees as his natural constituency. He is standing very much against the “business as usual” platform of Blatter, one that also taints other challengers given that they are looked upon very much as business suits, operators, administrators, people from that hermetically sealed world where the deals are done and where football operates as a secondary consideration, a long, long way behind money.
Tax The Rich
So here is one of Ginola’s bombshell ideas – FIFA might like to start paying some tax. Extraordinary as it may seem, for all the huge amounts of money they rake off all over the world, not least in cash strapped Brazil last summer, so sophisticated are FIFA’s tax arrangements that they hand none of it back in tax.
Sure, like any organisation, they would want to minimise their obligations on that score, but then they aren’t like any other organisation are they? They are supposed to be above the stricture of mere business. As the organising body of a game, one that contributes to the health and well being of billions, football and FIFA exist beneath a moral imperative, a requirement to do the right thing. How can they have their World Cup in Brazil and not pay any tax there from the fortunes that were generated?
The call for equality extends elsewhere, including into the women’s game. To try to shine greater light on that, Ginola has come up with the eminently sensible suggestion that the women’s World Cup should be played immediately after the men’s version, in the same nation, using the same stadia.
On the face of it, it’s a brilliant idea. With all the media already in place for the men’s beanfeast, there’s every chance they can remain in situ to cover the women’s World Cup too. Indeed, you could even give it a real kick start in those final 10 days of the men’s tournament when they are those long, miserable days stretching out without football. Play some of the women’s early group games in those slots and there’ll be plenty of fans going cold turkey who will lap it up. Good thinking from the Frenchman.
In the end it is unlikely that Ginola will win the campaign, but if he could at least get on the ballot, something very interesting might just be around the corner. For Ginola could be the insurgency candidate, the one that tilts the debate, the one who chimes in with the thoughts of grass root support.
He might be the one that requires the other candidates to take the world beyond their cloistered offices seriously. He could be the Ralph Nader or Ross Perot type figure, someone who can shake the tree sufficiently for a few of the establishment to fall out, bang their heads and start thinking afresh. And he might not win, but at least his candidacy is going to liven things up for a few weeks.