Friday, June 29, 2018

My hero / Football by David Conn



My hero: 

Football

 by David Conn

The game should be governed in a way that makes all football lovers proud


David Conn
Saturday 30 May 2015

T
he former Argentine footballer Jorge Valdano once wrote that the journey of every adult football lover begins with a child, kicking a ball to the park. For some of those involved at the highest ranks of Fifa, their journey from the park ended this week in dawn arrests or guilty pleas to alleged corruption beyond a child’s imagination. One ineradicable image conjured by the US criminal indictment is the allegation that the Fifa executive committee member Jeffrey Webb had a $3m bribe partly routed to the man who was building him a swimming pool. The 164-page indictment of 14 defendants indeed left one almost drowning in detail, but still the anger and disgust came through. I fell in love with football as a boy in the parks, playgrounds and in the very air of Manchester, and I still believe – more than ever – in its beauty as a sport and the essential effort, spirit and team ethos it requires. Yet the game is subject to relentless exploitation by people entrusted to be its custodians, what the Swiss attorney general, referring to allegations regarding Fifa’s award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, described this week as “unjust enrichment”. Yet unjust enrichment is not restricted to the bribes or kickbacks that fall under the strict definition of corruption. Would it have been more admirable had Webb, if this bribe is proven, taken a grossly inflated fee from a TV rights contract by being on the payroll legitimately? Many whose enrichment has outraged football lovers have made millions by selling shares in football companies that supporters still quaintly refer to as clubs. The guiding light for running football should be as simple as the game’s essence. Picture the young boy, running to the park with his ball, and nurture a sport fit for his lifelong loyalty.

 David Conn’s books about football include The Beautiful Game? and Richer than God.





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