What They Don’t Say

Canadian journalist Declan Hill comments on match-fixing at the World Cup. In the photo, he (left) receives the 2009 Play the Game Award from Tine Teilmann for his work in exposing the realities of match-fixing in East Asia.


Comment by Declan Hill
In case you missed it BBC Newsnight has announced that FIFA was warned that the Nigerian team may have been vulnerable to fixing games at the 2010 South Africa World Cup.
They say that the UEFA investigator went to the FIFA Early Warning System and told them there were suspicious betting patterns on Nigeria games. They also claim that they were told that Nigerian players were alarmed by the conditions at the World Cup and that they were “vulnerable to corruption.”
All this information was given to FIFA and their officials have responded by saying there is ‘no evidence of fixing at the World Cup.’ It is a good attempt at a difficult story and full kudos to the BBC for trying.
But, here is what they don’t say: First, FIFA’s early warning system is practically useless. They don’t investigate. They don’t protect the players. If you are a whistle-blower and you come forward to expose your fears, don’t expect protection and don’t expect the situation to improve.
Second, the Nigeria Football Federation has been so utterly incompetent for so long that many Nigerians have become desperate to close it down and start again. The Nigerian government got involved. Perhaps more tellingly, the great star Jay-Jay Okocha pleaded with FIFA not to pay the World Cup bonus to the Nigerian FA. His fear was that the money would disappear before it could reach the players.
The basic scenario that leads to corruption at World Cup tournaments is that many of the national football associations are so incompetent they cannot guarantee their players will receive any salary or bonuses for playing in the world’s biggest tournament. Until FIFA stops this exploitation, pays the players directly and establishes a proper investigative unit (as UEFA has), we can expect lots of these types of storie
This comment was first published on Declan Hill's blog on 9 July 2010, and is republished on Play the Game's website with kind permission from the author.
  • Moses Jjingo, Kampala, Uganda, 14.07.2010 11:03:
    Its absurd that FIFA - the body responsible to stamp out such vices, only fuels it. The story is not different from that of Uganda, several voices have been raised against corrupt tendencies by the FA officials here - specifically the misuse of the FIFA grant and misappropriation of the GOAL project fund but FIFA has for years turned a deaf hear. Imagine, the money meant for the FIFA GOAL II in Jinja was 'eaten' and the project stalled but FIFA happily granted Uganda a 4th GOAL project to finish the third project, actually without even cautioning the FA officials responsible for this mess. And my conviction is that it is FIFA gaining from such corruption tendencies. The affiliated FAs are just conduits and the supervisors like Ashford Mamelodi is in charge of Uganda, are agents.

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