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Secrets and lies...

by Francis Leach on Jun 27, 2011

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Secrets and Lies. Football has been drowning in an ocean of them of late.

If the whole FIFA bribery and corruption scandal didn't provide you with enough dirt to deal with, then claims of salary cheating in the Hyundai A-League and a player revolt at last year's FIFA World Cup Finals by the Socceroos might just round out your dirty deeds dance card.

We've all been involved in football long enough to know that it's the greatest show on earth and that just maybe, the whole FIFA sleaze extravaganza is probably a reflection on how business is done at this level in any number of sectors.

It doesn't make it anywhere near okay, but it's pretty clear to me that as much as it is a football problem, it's also business as usual where business is big.

It's a huge task trying to achieve transparency and efficacy in such a bandit culture where wealth and patronage are predicated on self interest above all else. It will take more than the righteous indignation of fans who feel, justifiably, that their game is being held hostage.

It will require the intervention of governments the world over to apply the blowtorch to the bandits.

FIFA acts like a state without borders. It's President Sepp Blatter roams the globe and is treated with all the pomp and ceremony afforded a head of state. This in turn serves to legitimise his status and entrench his power.

As the head of a ‘rogue state’, Blatter should be treated accordingly. Governments and institutions should begin to refuse him Prime Ministerial, Presidential and Ministerial access.

Blatter should be given the status of pariah and maybe then the corporate interests that have for so long been the foundation of his kingdom of corruption might be reluctant to be seen as members of his court.

And once the money dries up, the grip on power is sure to slip as well.

Closer to home, FFA still hasn't answered queries about it's handling of claims that Sydney FC might have breached the salary cap in it's Championship winning season in 2009-10.

If the governing body was made aware of irregularities and chose not to pursue them and enforce their own competition equalisation rules, they’re as guilty of a betrayal as big as anything Blatter Inc. has perpetrated.

If it were found that FFA stepped back from exposing cheating then it would have bought into the same culture of compromise that is ruining the game.

And why?

To save the game from embarrassing headlines amidst it's ill-fated World Cup bid?

It's further proof that FFA can't serve the interests of both the local competition, the national teams and its political masters at FIFA at the same time.

The sooner the Hyundai A-League establishes a separate and independent administration from the parent body, the better. It's time that the local game had a truly autonomous voice that could fight from its corner and avoid the crippling compromises that are a dead weight around the game’s neck in Australia.

And as for the ‘Disaster in Durban’, who do you believe? Les Murray has put his considerable credibility on the line with his claims about a Lucas Neill led player revolt against Pim Verbeek's tactics ahead of the game against Germany.

I'm backing Les with this one.

Both the player and FFA have denied it. They would. Which is a shame.

Because in terms of scandals, the way The Socceroos played that night was right up there with the very worst of them.