20 Days Remaining

Wednesday 26th
posted by Kadeem Simmonds in Sport

Football’s ethics scandal gets more disgusting every day, writes KADEEM SIMMONDS

A TERRIBLE reflection on the world of sport. That’s what construction union Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy called the International Association of Athletics Federations decision to hold the 2019 Championships in Qatar.

The same can be said about Fifa deciding to hand Qatar the 2022 World Cup — though if you’re extremely generous you could claim that the extreme exploitation of migrant workers wasn’t quite as clear in 2010.

Since then Fifa have had many chances to strip Qatar of the tournament and faced countless calls to do so. The world athletics body should have known better than to follow Fifa’s lead.

But neither organisation has anyone to answer to, so they can largely do what they like — something shown clearly by the actions taken in response to Michael Garcia’s corruption investigation.

The document has yet to be published in full and Fifa president Sepp Blatter says it never will be. The only thing we have is a rather dubious summary of it that Garcia claims does not reflect his findings.

This would be funny were not so much at stake.

Garcia states that the Russian bid team which won the competition for the 2018 World Cup rented the computers they used, which were later destroyed — along with any evidence on them. The Russians deny wrongdoing. But this surely merits further investigation.

Blatter claims that publishing the report will break Fifa rules. Then why not change the rules?

He says it will breach confidentiality. But Fifa has already done that by naming two courageous whistleblowers, one of whom says she now fears for her family’s safety.

The English FA want Blatter out and Fifa to be overhauled.

But they aren’t exactly angels in all of this.

Fifa official Hans-Joachim Eckert, whose summary Garcia says contained “erroneous representations of the facts,” used the England bid for the 2018 tournament as an example of bribery.

The FA acted disgracefully in their attempt to woo North American and Caribbean federation Concacaf official Jack Warner and breached the “bidding rules.”

But their failed bribery — if you can even call it that — was laughable at best and is being used as a way to tarnish the FA and discredit their attempts to reform Fifa.

It has also been reported that three years ago the Fifa ethics committee was told by Australian officials that a Fifa executive committee member was asking for “hard cash” in return for votes.

This also wasn’t in the dodgy summary, along with who knows what else.

Even if Qatar and Russia’s rule-breaking was of “limited scope,” they should face the appropriate punishments.

And this doesn’t even consider the wider situation — such as racism and discrimination against LGBT people in Russia and the appalling, life-threatening conditions workers face in Qatar.

Fifa wants the world to look one way while they do what they like in the other. They make the rules and think they’re above them.

Murphy was right. This is a terrible reflection of the world of sport.

FORMER Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was outed as a horrendous racist and was shortly banned from the US National Basketball Association for life. The league took the right decision to rid itself of a bigot.

Meanwhile at Wigan chairman Dave Whelan — in a bid to defend new manager Malky Mackay, under FA investigation for sending racist, sexist, anti-semitic and homophobic text messages — made racist and anti-semitic comments.

“I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else,” Whelan (pictured above) said.

Not helping matters, he continued: “If any Englishman said he has never called a Chinaman a chink he is lying,” Whelan said. “There is nothing bad about doing that.”

Whether or not you agree with Whelan’s decision to hire Mackay before the FA decides on charges, there must be a debate about if Whelan can keep his own job.

It is clear that despite Whelan’s apology — called “half-hearted” by Britain’s main Jewish group — his comments should be investigated.

After carrying out a fair hearing, the FA may decide that he is no longer “fit and proper” to run a club.

Personally, I think in this case he needs to be told what he can and cannot say — perhaps odd for a 78-year-old but he needs help.

There have been plenty of players sent on re-education courses and Whelan is certainly one who needs to go on one.

He grew up in an era when his comments may have been seen as fine.

What is and is not acceptable changes over time, and some people need a hand keeping up to speed.

I’m sure Whelan meant no harm — but such comments can be harmful in themselves.

His backfiring defence of Mackay has stirred the debate about the Rooney Rule, which would require clubs to interview ethnic minority candidates for top jobs, and one must wonder if his views have affected his hiring decisions.

He will argue they haven’t — but he will also argue that his comments were not racist.

Whelan has at least showed an ounce of remorse for his actions and deserves a fair hearing.

But one thing is certain — he is responsible for a large organisation employing staff of many different backgrounds and a decision must be made on whether his is fit to continue in that role.