It’s a Game that They Are Playing

Sepp Blatter says there has been 'no information' regarding match-fixing in the 2010 World Cup. But does that mean it didn't happen, or that FIFA is unable to detect it? Photo (c) by Flickr user AsianFC. Used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.


Comment by Declan Hill
It is not football. It is the game of deliberate diplomatic deniability. The game is all about making truthful statements that do not ruffle any official feathers. Here is how it is played. Examine this section of FIFA’s statement on the allegations about Nigerian match-fixing in the World Cup.
“FIFA and the Early Warning System (EWS) have a network of informants from which we receive information. Of course, as you may understand, we will not disclose the identity of the informants. What we can say is that at least until today no information provided by the informants to FIFA in relation to any potential match-fixing activities during the 2010 FIFA World Cup have proved to have any substance. Furthermore, we can also say that there is no indication whatsoever until today of any match-fixing situations during any of the matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”
The keys to understanding the game are the phrases ‘no indication’ and ‘no information’. What FIFA has actually done is create a laughable system of anti-corruption.
Its Early Warning System is a joke. It produces no information and few of their ‘informants’ actually know what they are talking about. Then when these ‘informants’ do not tell them anything substantial, FIFA can completely honestly say, ‘we have no information or evidence of match-fixing’. They are not lying. They have created a system which produces no reliable evidence, so they can report it.
What can FIFA do? Create an integrity unit. A proper one. One with high-ranking former police officers with take-charge attitudes. Baltasar Garzón, the former Spanish judge is looking for a job. Put him in command. You would see a lot of things come out very quickly!
Two, investigate the former Nigeria Football Association. Hire a couple of honest forensic accountants. The track-record of the NFA is one of deeply-rooted incompetence. Find out why it is incompetent. Go interview Glen Hoddle, the former England manager who, a few months ago, claimed that he was offered the position of manager of Nigeria at the World Cup, so long as he paid a kick-back to the NFA.
Do these two things, and then we can know for certain the truth about these allegations.

This comment was first published on Declan Hill's Blog on 13 July 2010, and is republished on Play the Game's website with kind permission from the author.

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