In the past, over 100 years ago, football was invented. The rules were simple and it quickly caught on. From the backstreets of Burnley to the Favelas of Rio football was the sport anyone could play. Football became the People's Game. Today it isn't the People's Game. People can play it, but someone owns it and they don't give a flying f*ck what you think.
To be exact, FIFA owns it and they won't give it back.
Last week's bid results brought into sharp focus the current state of FIFA. The Executive Committee voting system with all its backroom deals and bargaining contrasted sharply with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of Eddie Afekake, causing many to burst arteries in anger. In the space of a couple of hours, the world went from hope through the beautiful game to secret agreements being played out between men in blazers you've never heard of locked in a room away from the prying eyes of the world. Millions of lovers of the beautiful game sat impotently as FIFA yet again had its wicked way with the game. The world groaned, Blatter grinned. Mission accomplished.
It's been like this for years, just in different, equally depressing god-awful ways. The much maligned, yet fearlessly brilliant journalist Andrew Jennings has long been exposing the rank hypocrisy and skullduggery at FIFA. His website is one of the main drives behind changeFIFA. Simply gazing open mouthed at the photograph on the site's homepage of Blatter stood chest out, sash flashing and medals clinking with Charles Taylor was enough to fire changeFIFA into measured action.
FIFA are not the sort of organisation to take a challenge to their authority lightly. Years of unaccountability and the might of vast fiscal power have made the organisation more than simply powerful. They don't just control football, they own it - not even the players with all the talk of player power can get close. Even Murdoch, with his vast interests in the game, can’t challenge Sepp Blatter and his lock tight grip on the game.
Next to FIFA, changeFIFA is a tiny squirt of nothing, except that changeFIFA does have one very special thing: momentum.
ChangeFIFA is the diametric opposite of FIFA. We don't have hundreds of millions in the bank; in fact we don't even have a thousand. We don’t have any say at all about how the game should be run or who manages it. Next to FIFA, changeFIFA is a tiny squirt of nothing, except that changeFIFA does have one very special thing: momentum. Last week, after the bid vote, that sharp focus brought attention to our campaign. We want to create a new organisation for the governance of world football based on democracy and transparency. We don't want a closed shop which disrespects and ignores fans and players, the media and the greats of the game. That message was popular, much more popular than FIFA.
The one thing that can break FIFA's lock tight owning of the game is fan momentum, player momentum and media momentum for positive change. FIFA itself will not change anything. They can't even be bothered to debate technology properly. The FAs are unlikely to want to change anything by themsleves; fear of FIFA is ingrained in the psyche of those who rely on it. The fans can force change. We can influence the FAs and players, the clubs and sponsors through sheer force of numbers and some carefully planned action which we are working on at this moment.
ChangeFIFA has two lines of attack. The first and most part is weight of numbers. The more fans that get behind us, the harder it is for FIFA and those in football to ignore our mission. The second line is direct contact with those key people in the game. By talking with players, coaches, clubs, national associations and even politicians we can influence a new era in the game based on the will of the fans. That era could be a new organisation or a totally reformed FIFA, that debate is ongoing.
Naturally many observers will doubt whether this can be achieved. Forcing a change for the better will be a huge task, almost an impossibility, but not an impossibility. What we won't do is sit back and let the failed status quo continue. No one should own football and abuse it, we will do everything we can to make football democratic and transparent, but most of all a game which respects the people who love it. Your support is vital.
To find out more about changeFIFA, please visit this website
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