FIFA is political

Maybe it's time for FIFA to admit that it is involved in politics.

By JEREMY LAST
April 17, 2006 01:28
2 minute read.
fifa 88

fifa 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Last week, Germany's deputy interior minister, August Hanning, travelled to Teheran to hold talks with senior Iranian officials. During the discussions, the Iranians apparently raised their concerns about possible threats to the Iranian national team during the upcoming soccer World Cup, to be held in Germany this summer. It turned out that the Iranian government has become worried about the possibility of "violent protests" at Iran's matches by Iranian opposition groups, who reportedly have hundreds of followers in Germany. The Germans, it seems, understood Iran's worries and Hanning assured the Iranians that Germany will cooperate fully with the Islamist regime over any possible threats. "When the Iranians fear a threat, they will tell us their reasons. Then our evaluation will flow back to Teheran," Hanning was quoted by AP in the Tagesspiegel newspaper. Instead of placating the Iranians, maybe pressure should be put on Germany and FIFA, world soccer's governing body, to ban Iran from the World Cup for that country's president's repeated comments calling for the total destruction of the State of Israel and denying the Holocaust, as well as continuing nuclear weapons development. But wait. The last organization you should expect any support from would be FIFA. Because, despite Iran's insane leaders, FIFA consistently stresses that it does not get involved in politics and the Iranian soccer team is completely welcome at Germany 2006. In a statement released last Tuesday, FIFA president Sepp Blatter claimed that, "In the world of today, which is disrupted by long-lasting disputes and violence, football is one of the very few universal tools mankind can use... to symbolize what unites our planet over what divides it. "FIFA's role is not to reprimand, but to help create bonds." Lovely words. But this particular press release, which contained the phrase "FIFA, a non-political organization," was released to announce that the organization will be paying for the "rehabilitation" of the National Stadium in Gaza, which had been damaged by IDF artillery fire a week and a half before. FIFA would love you to believe that the reason it decided to pay for the refurbishments is to "promote friendly relations between its members and in society for humanitarian objectives." However, it seems that FIFA acts in anything other than a non-political manner. Before FIFA decided to pay to repair the stadium, Jerome Champagne, the delegate to FIFA's president for special affairs, e-mailed the Israeli ambassador to Switzerland demanding an explanation as to why the stadium was bombed. How FIFA can claim that its role is "not to reprimand" is anyone's guess. If Champagne had been satisfied that the Israeli strikes on the stadium were justified, would FIFA still have paid for the stadium to be fixed? Maybe it's time for FIFA to admit that it is involved in politics. jeremylast@yahoo.com

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