Will countries leave FIFA?

FIFA - Infantino

While the leadup to the World Cup had been muddied by controversy, all seemed to be well as the day dawned upon us. Yet, when FIFA officials visited the English football team on the day of their match against Iran, those controversies returned to the forefront of public attention.

The team was informed they would be met with drastic sanctions if captain Harry Kane wore his One Love armband during the match.

Banning such pro-LGBTQ+ gestures during the World Cup seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, as almost immediately after, rumours began to swirl about countries leaving FIFA.

While no concrete plans are in place, reports say that countries are discussing leaving the
association, with Denmark at the head. The fact is, these reports should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Since Qatar won their bid to host the 2022 World Cup, there has been no shortage of controversy surrounding FIFA, mainly a multitude of then-current and former federation
officials being charged with various crimes, including fraud and bribery.

After the dust settled from this scandal, one thing became clear. Qatar bribed FIFA to have the rights to the 2022 World Cup.

The unveiling of widespread corruption in FIFA has led to countries questioning whether they should remain a part of the organisation at all, and we are finally seeing action.

The fact is, action should have been taken long ago. The first instance of corruption in FIFA should have started a chain reaction that ended with all countries leaving.

If corruption wasn’t enough to trigger change, The Guardian’s report on migrant workers in Qatar should have been the last straw. While the figures are not confirmed, it is estimated that over 6500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the country won the rights to the World Cup.

Countries remaining in FIFA are indirectly supporting the exploitation of workers. Being complacent in an organisation that allowed itself to be bribed, leading to the deaths of thousands of workers in the name of football, condones this behaviour and will enable it to continue.

Even if countries don’t leave FIFA, Ireland should take matters into their own hands and swiftly exit. Sport has the power to trigger social change, which can be seen as early as the 1940’s when Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s colour barrier.

Ireland leaving FIFA can highlight the corruption within the federation, along with the horrid working conditions created because of FIFA’s decisions. Countries have the ability to create a global movement not only against corruption but a global movement that puts power into the hands of the working class. Yet, the likelihood is that FIFA will continue to exist and generate massive profits, as these countries are scared of change.

Jack Reynolds

Image Credit: Getty