In the three decades I’ve covered African football, I have gone through the entire gamut of emotions: exhilaration – over some of the continent’s great moments at the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup; frustration – over the comedic errors our football governors repeatedly make; and deep despair, as one continually questions whether the custodians of a game that means so much, to Africa’s one billion people, will ever live up to their responsibilities and do their darned jobs diligently.
So, how were the last four years for the FIFA business? With the governing body’s 2018 financial report finally published in the wake of the Miami Council meeting, a proper analysis can now be attempted.
By Paul Nicholson
January 6 – FIFA has a new human rights case to champion and this one looks like it is directly related to football. Following the Iraq vs Qatar game at the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates, British passport holder Ali Issa Ahmed was arrested, reportedly for wearing a Qatar shirt to the game.
By Paul Nicholson
The alacrity of FIFA’s move to call on stakeholders to find a solution to the detention of part-time footballer Hakeem Al Araibi in Thailand shows a remarkable new found conscience and morality in an organisation that eschews a philosophy of never mixing politics and football.
By David Owen
If there is one message to FIFA from the TV viewing figures for Russia 2018, it is that, if it wants to attract even bigger audiences, it must hope for, or somehow engineer, greater diversity in its crown jewel’s final stages.
Like UEFA president Alexander Ceferin or not, he has shown a steady hand running UEFA since he took over from – who was it again? Time flies, doesn’t it… The ‘man who came in from the nowhere’ and took charge of Europe’s football confederation has been accused of a lot of things since he took office. Most of them have had about as much basis as a Döner Kebab without lamb and onion.
By Paul Nicholson
The three biggest football presidencies in global football come up for election in 2019 with FIFA, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and UEFA all voting on new presidential terms. At present the only election of the three that will be contested will be in Asia – current president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa announced his intention to run again last week.
By Andrew Warshaw in Nyon
September 28 – By the time UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin proclaimed that Thursday’s vote for Euro 2024 was a “transparent, democratic decision” by his executive committee, Turkey’s vanquished bid team were already packing their bags en route to Geneva airport, stunned by the margin of defeat.
If an unindicted co-conspirator in a US federal criminal case tells you “I want to thank Gianni Infantino for being here – he’s the president of FIFA and a highly respected man,” it is a dubious honour at best. If the same unindicted co-conspirator continues to say “Let’s see, in 2026 I won’t be here [as president]. Maybe they’ll extend the term? If they don’t extend it the media is going to be very boring,
August 15 – FIFA has moved swiftly to counter criticism of its Ethic processes following global outcry over the removal of the word ‘corruption’ from its updated Ethics Code, and the worrying (if not frightening) introduction of a new ‘defamation’ offence, being widely talked about as a new law for cover-up.
With his announcement to resign, Richard Scudamore has demonstrated once again a certain class and intelligence: he leaves at a time when the Premier League is in the best of health, successful and solid to the core.
The moment Morocco entered the bidding for the 2026 World Cup, you kind of knew it wouldn’t be a straightforward affair. But few surely imagined it would become quite as bitter and bizarre as this.
Before Morocco threw its hat in the ring, there was only America. MAGA appears to be the name of the game anywhere you look these days. Make America Great Again everywhere and anywhere. As long as the US profit and their competitors eat sand (or salt water or rocks – you choose), all is good in Trump’s special democracy.
Carrying a gun into a football stadium is forbidden by Greek Law. Reaching for the gun in a threatening fashion takes this to the next level. Demanding the ref to change a decision at gun-point is an altogether novel approach to winning a title. But when PAOK of Thessaloniki scored an offside goal in the 90th minute to win the match, that’s exactly what happened. The goal was not given and the proverbial hit the fan.
The good news for Premier League club owners: top-tier English football has never been more profitable. The bad news: this is probably as good as it is going to get for at least the next five years – an age in terms of media technology.