On Tuesday, June 2, Sepp Blatter announced his intention to resign as FIFA president just four days after winning reelection to a fifth term — an electoral victory that simply could not have happened without the support of FIFA’s African members.
According to unofficial calculations, the 133 votes secretly cast for Blatter came from Africa (53), Asia (46), and North America (minus the United States) and the Caribbean (34).
Why did Africans unanimously support the leader of a troubled, even loathed, organization which two days earlier witnessed the arrest of seven of its executives in Zurich on US bribery and corruption charges?
As an academic who has been researching, publishing and teaching the history and culture of African football for two decades, I want to offer a possible answer to this challenging question.
Read full text here at The Conversation.
Two weeks before the FIFA election to select Sepp Blatter’s successor as president, the Football Scholars Forum, an international group based at Michigan State University, discussed The Ugly Game: The Corruption of FIFA and the Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup by Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert.
Qatar’s successful 2022 World Cup bid and the role of the now-disgraced ex-FIFA ExCo member Mohamed Bin Hammam came under close scrutiny. The authors’ reliance on leaked FIFA electronic files called attention to the challenges and opportunities for scholars working with “big data.” There was discussion about discourses of Western bias and even racism against Africans and Asians (especially Arabs) that are sometimes perceived to be embedded in corruption allegations. Another topic tackled during the event was the intriguing question of whether there should be a universal standard of human rights required for nations to host the World Cup.
The session closed with important contributions related to the upcoming FIFA presidential ballot. Will Sheikh Salman or Gianni Infantino win? And what kinds of reforms might the new leadership deliver? What is the likelihood that any changes introduced will meaningfully transform the structure and governance of the much-maligned world body? In a climate plagued by corruption and cynicism, is there any hope for a better future?
An audio recording of the session is available here.
For more information about the Football Scholars Forum, visit footballscholars.org.
Exquisitely timed for release just ahead of the May 29th FIFA presidential election, ESPN aired an excellent E60 documentary on Sepp Blatter’s governance of world football.
Jeremy Schaap’s piercing investigation deftly uses on-camera interviews with whistleblower Phaedra Almajid, ex-FIFA men like Guido Tognoni, Swiss government officials, and others to probe the murky bid process that granted Qatar hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup. The story digs vigorously into a culture of corruption, fear, intimidation, patronage, and politricks within football’s world body.
Watch the entire show by clicking on each link below:
Part 1: Blatter’s power and Qatar’s World Cup
Part 2: Beginnings of the legend of Blatter
Part 3: Controversy surrounds Blatter’s reign at FIFA
Part 4: Criticism in the UK
Part 5: Challenging Blatter’s power
As an after-viewing treat, I would highly recommend listening to this interview by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl with Jeremy Schaap about making the documentary, lessons learned, and a lot more.
And if you still haven’t had enough, then go ahead and enjoy Last Week Tonight‘s John Oliver lambast the most powerful man in sports! (click here to watch).
On Thursday, October 23, Football Beyond Borders, a London-based non-profit organization, is hosting a panel discussion on the power of football to combat social exclusion. It features author, journalist and tv pundit Guillem Balague, award-winning writer David Goldblatt, Premier leaguer Joey Barton, sports agent Sky Andrew, and other special guests. The event is part of the FARE network #FootballPeople action weeks.
Two new documentaries about Football Beyond Borders’ work in the UK and Brazil will also be premiered. Copa dos Povos is about the international Favela World Cup that took place in Brazil in the summer; and All Stars in Scotland: FBB Youth Tour, which follows the first ever FBB school tour to Scotland.
The event is at Amnesty International’s East London HQ from 7pm until 10pm, with food and drinks available. Tickets are sold out but you can watch a livestream of the event on the FBB YouTube channel.
The day before the magic kingdom opens in São Paulo, WKAR’s “Current State” host Mark Bashore interviewed me about the politics of the World Cup. We discussed FIFA profits and institutional reform, special World Cup laws and extraterritoriality, nation-building, development, civic protests, and what the future holds for Brazil, on and off the pitch. Originally broadcast live on June 11, 2014. Take a listen!
I was recently interviewed by BBC Brasil‘s João Fellet and asked to compare the hosting of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with the preparations for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Below is the Portuguese text of what transpired [translate] and a link to read the full article.
15 May 2014
BBC Brasil – Quatro anos depois da Copa de 2010, o que ficou do torneio para os sul-africanos?
Gemma Mcdonald – Há um tipo de nostalgia por aquele período, por aquela sensação de unidade, solidariedade, de estar no centro do mundo. Os estrangeiros que foram para a Copa perceberam que os estereótipos negativos sobre a África do Sul não eram verdadeiros, e isso ainda faz o país se sentir bem. As emoções de um carnaval como a Copa são difíceis de bater.
BBC Brasil – Houve outros legados?
Alegi – O legado emocional foi importante de diferentes maneiras. Ele fez as pessoas sentirem um senso de unidade num país ainda muito dividido quanto a raças, classes e gêneros. Nos estádios sul-africanos, as pessoas cantam o hino abraçadas ou de mãos dadas, como nas igrejas. Num país onde o povo não tem muitas oportunidades de estar junto, a mágica do nacionalismo explodiu de uma maneira positiva.
Isso aconteceu só 16 anos após o apartheid. Sediar um evento bem sucedido fez com que os sul-africanos se sentissem muito orgulhosos.
O torneio também despertou sentimentos de panafricanismo. Por um ou dois meses, os sul-africanos se sentiram parte do continente africano. Isso foi encorajador, levando em conta os problemas do país com a xenofobia.
To read full article click here.
There may not be any white smoke coming out of the soccer conclave this week at Hofstra University in New York, but little else will be missing from an unprecedented fútbological event featuring presentations by more than 100 scholars, journalists, authors, coaches, and the King of Soccer himself: Pelé.
Historians Brenda Elsey and Stanislao Pugliese are the presiding cardinals of Soccer as the Beautiful Game: Football’s Artistry, Identity and Politics , an international conference hosted by the Hofstra Cultural Center and the Hofstra Department of History. The gathering begins on Thursday, April 10, with concurrent panels, an opening ceremony, and two keynote addresses by David Goldblatt (“Brazil: The Curious Rise of the Futebol Nation”) and Jennifer Doyle (“Imagining a World Without a World Cup: An Abolitionist Perspective).
Friday’s menu serves up a plethora of panels on a dizzying range of topics and a ceremony honoring Pelé with the conferral of an honorary degree. Saturday’s focus is on journalists, coaches, philanthropy round-tables, followed by a concluding plenary session, and . . . a pickup game on the New York Cosmos home ground! (Note to self: remember to pack turf shoes.)
I’ll be presenting a paper comparing World Cup 2010 in South Africa to World Cup 2014 in Brazil (click here to listen to an earlier version of this talk) and also participating in the Football Scholars Forum on academic vs. journalistic writing about soccer (click here to watch my pre-conference video blog and here to read the other five posts by my fabulous co-panelists).