An Open Letter to FIFA

Wed, 28 Jul 2010 Source: Asubonteng, Bernard

From: Bernard Asubonteng, Atlanta, GA

To: President Joseph Blatter

FIFA-Strasse 20,

P. O. Box 8044

Zurich, Switzerland


Dear Mr. Blatter:

It is a pleasure to engage in conversation with you and your august body, FIFA. First, let me congratulate you for the prominent role you played in making sure Africa finally had her rightful chance to host the senior World Cup (WC) finals on its soil for the first time. I hardly need emphasis to say that staging the WC finals in the African continent was long overdue. You probably will agree with me that notwithstanding all the vuvuzela controversies, millions soccer fans worldwide, including you Mr. Blatter had a wonderful and unique learning experience from this particular football event. Is that right?

Honestly, it doesn’t bother me whether or not you get the chance to read this letter or the concerns I’m raising. I’m just putting it out there with a belief that if not today, maybe one day you or some of your numerous minions at FIFA will come across it or read something similar to this one. Oh, what a thrilling victory will that be for me! Please be advised that when I say “you,” (depending on what I’m saying) sometimes I may be referring to all the members of the FIFA governing committee, too.

At any rate, I think there are about four main reasons that egg me on to write to you. The reason number one is TERM LIMIT. Sir, with all due respect have you ever come across the word—term limit—before? Without wasting time, and for the purpose of this writing situation, let me define Term Limit as a law that puts a stop to the number of terms or years a person may serve in particular office. Stated differently, Term Limit deals with constitutional restrictions that set limits on how long an elected official may serve in office.

If you don’t mine, President Blatter, let me use your case as an example. You have been the president of FIFA since 1998, right? In 2002, you were re-elected and again was re-elected unopposed for another 4-year term on May 31, 2007, although less than 70 out of 207 FIFA members nominated you. Then in December 2009, you asked for another term and you got what you wanted—re-election. If there is a term limit clause enshrined in FIFA constitution, there is no way you would have been in FIFA’s driving seat for this insanely long time. Forget about the fact there were countless accusations of bribery and corruption surrounding your 1998 election as FIFA leader over UEFA President Lennart Johansson.

After you have successfully become FIFA president in 1998, a term limit would have put “legal brakes” in your way, making it impossible for you to go beyond two-terms of 8-year duration. Meaning that after serving your first 4-year term as FIFA president, you can only seek re-election for another 4-year term bringing your total presidential years to 8 and that is about it. Thus the greedy scenario above where you keep seeking re-election and winning in perpetuation of your presidency at FIFA will be a thing of the past.

You may be wondering or thinking by “what authority do I have” to lecture you on the importance of term limits. Well, Mr. President, please bear in mind that I’m not trying to lecture you on anything new you don’t know. They say you can’t teach old dog new tricks. I’m only trying to have conversation of mutual benefit to all of us as football-loving fans. I strongly believe that an efficient FIFA leadership and 21st century soccer development are not two opposing values. It is on this premise that I’m bringing this issue(s) up for discussions so we can explore ways where we can inject some modernity into the status quo at FIFA to reflect the prevailing conditions of our time.

Think about this Mr. President: you were FIFA General Secretary from 1981-1998; then in 1998 you became the 8th president of the body. So, in all, you’ve been in the upper echelons of the decision-making levels of FIFA for almost thirty years. You are now 74 years old, if I’m not mistaken. Sir, I humbly want to know from you what new ideas do you still have for FIFA that you need more time to implement in which you could not have delivered long time ago?

Your Honorable President, I’m not being sarcastic here, but I don’t think you need “my ignorant self” to tell you, you have spread your despotic tentacles all over the soccer governing body ever since the Pope was even an altar boy. Political philosophers say that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I’m not going to use that analogy because you don’t regard yourself as politician. However, I learned that you have a bachelor degree in economics so I’m sure you understand the economic law of diminishing returns better than me. As you know, the concept/law affirms that to continue after a certain threshold of performance (e.g. FIFA presidency) has been reached will result in a decline in effectiveness. Methinks this economic analogy at this point is self-explanatory. No doubt, FIFA under your watch now looks like a dynasty based on cronyism. The body needs constitutional reforms more than ever before, among them an incorporation of term limits for its top leadership. This suggestion goes to the CAF, too. Sorry about the detour, your Highness.

Sir, also equally important is the serious need to reform the bogus ranking system. I know this is becoming my signature issue of late, but who cares about what others say when you are telling the truth? I love football, so anything that has the potential to debase the beauty of the game pricks my nerves much the same as a non-goalkeeper who hand-blocks a goal-bound ball on the goal-line and claims it is the handiwork of God. I stated in my previous writings that FIFA monthly ranking not only undermines fairness but also it contradicts modern realities. I still stand by that statement.

Mr. President, as you may be aware, FIFA calculates its world ranking basically on these three factors: 1. Was the match in question a win or a tie? (M)

2. How important was the match—friendly, qualifier, World Cup? (I)

3. How strong was the opponent in terms of its (FIFA) ranking position

including the confederation to which the team belongs? (T and C)

Mr. President, you know FIFA puts the foregoing factors into account and comes out with some strange mathematical formula such as: Points=M x I x T x C x 100. In fact, it is not worth our time going into details with you on how the points are actually calculated because you are already aware of it and I guess you duly approve of its universal application. However, can you do me a favor by answering the following questions on the above mathematical equations? Why does FIFA include confederations matches in determining its monthly ranking, knowing that confederations such as Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) mostly ranks African teams based on FIFA monthly inputs, anyway?

Again, why do you and FIFA still regard some teams stronger than others when you were quoted after the 2010 World Cup as saying that “there are no more small [weak?] national teams. Football has developed everywhere…” If this is your sincere position now when are you going to initiate an overhaul of this outdated and predominantly Euro-centered ranking system? Isn’t it contradictory to arrange soccer MATCH between two opposing teams and turn around to regard one team as stronger even before the match is played and the results are in? Doesn’t the word MATCH assumes that both teams are on equal levels? If we say something matches, what does it readily come into your mind? Do you really see the irony here, President Blatter? A critical appraisal of the soccer ranking strongly suggests that FIFA uses it to favor selected national teams within a predictable top range at the expense of others. Tell me, sir, if I’m wrong.

Finally, sir, I know you’re a busy bureaucrat so I’m not going to hold you that long, but I pray that you will take some time out of you busy schedules, read, and ponder over some of the issues I raised in this letter. It may not seem sensible to you now but on deeper reflections, you may eventual realize that this letter serves as a food-for-thought, no ill-feelings or sarcasm intended.

Best wishes,

Bernard Asubonteng,

Atlanta, GA


Source: Asubonteng, Bernard