The past week has been one of high drama for the game of football. But sadly not on the pitch.
With the world’s leading football body, FIFA, coming under unprecedented accusation and condemnation, the game playing took on a whole, new, nasty nature. A sport that has brought millions across the world together for years, and has been a part of the fabric of many nations’ pride, unity and even identity, brought its passionate followers to states of emotion never seen before in the sport. Outrage became the sport’s unifying sentiment. Along with grave disappointment, though many would say not surprise.
The intense bruising of FIFA’s credibility, and outright challenge to its honesty of operations, has many across the globe arguing that, while this is a tragedy for FIFA, it may in fact be what the beautiful game has been needing for years. Finally, the velvet curtain is being pulled back, concerns are being followed up, concrete evidence is being collected, and charges are being made.
How far and wide the shadow of shame will go is yet to be seen. What is clearly visible, however, is that the love of the game remains strong, and its fans and followers across the globe are prepared to fight for its honesty.
The undeniable fall of FIFA this past week as the guardian of the world’s most widely played and cherished sport has shown, once again how richly unifying, and transcending, sport can be, and is. A game that is played by literally billions around the world, its moves intuitive, and its spirit infectious, has become a force that has unified nationals, and nations, for as long as lovers of the game can remember. Creating iconic moments, heroes, defining images, electric events, landmark centres of sport, and dreams of “maybe one day that will be me!”, football represents one of our great global languages.
What has this past week done to the fans of football far and wide? It has created an important separation between sport and sports bodies. And it has made clear there are some conversation, some negotiations, that the game is unwilling to engage in. There are some moves in the game that true lovers of the sport are unwilling, absolutely unwilling, to play.
This has to be a good thing.
The outrage must remain as a fuel of fury, inspiring football’s community, whether fans or officials, sponsors, players or profilers, to come together. Now is the moment for the sport to feel sits real strength – the billions of people across the globe who have made it the truly beautiful game.
As poignantly and earnestly expressed by Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Hussein in his powerful, albeit unsuccessful, FIFA election speech,:
“We are guardians of a Game that is not simply for the world, it is a game that is loved and cherished by the world. A game that is celebrated and a game that has the power to unite and to heal. That brings joy and tears. And that is about men and women who give their all and then more still… To inspire and guide the young. To entertain through suspense and endeavor. And to give pride to nations and regions.
The world that is watching is not a stakeholder that is somehow separate from our Game – FIFA does not exist in a bubble; the world that is watching is part of us, and we are part of it.”
As with all dark, long nights, there is always the promise of a new dawn. Now is the time for football lovers around the world to step forward and take their positions.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015