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House of Cards: What Might a Post-FIFA World Look Like?

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With news that FIFA bigwigs Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and Jerome Valcke have been "red carded" by FIFA and will have to sit out the next three months, it looks like finally the dead wood is being pruned at the world game HQ. However, worse may be yet come. What can be done to get the people's game back to the people?

The current danger is that as the poison is leeched from FIFA, nothing will be left. If corruption is as rife as many - including us here at The Kick Project - believe then more will be shown the door and still more, aware that the gravy train has terminated, will move on voluntarily.

The result may well be a vacuum at the heart of the world's most valuable sport. The immediate consequences of this may be no Confederation Championships and no World Cup in three years time or beyond. That's bad enough, but the real concern is who or what will fill this void.

There are essentially three likely outcomes.

One, would be to hand FIFA over to external administrators. Kofi Annan, former UN General Secretary, is one name put forward as a kind of crisis President. This outcome would require a complete clean out of FIFA and a complete restructure of the organisation. But, it would hardly remake FIFA. The structure would remain and the potential to rort it probably would too.

Second, we could have a take-over of the world game. This would most likely come from the corporate sector, let's say Red Bull or Nike, or from individual football tragics like Roman Abramovich. This possibility presents the danger of competing World Cups, as we have seen in other major sports, where different teams/countries align with one sponsor or another and conduct exclusive competitions.

Neither of these scenarios looks positive. Both simply re-badge FIFA. Neither the bureaucratic approach of the former possibility, nor the corporate approach of the latter is what is needed to save the world game.

What is needed is a grass roots structure which incorporates a governance model reflective of the game from the bottom up.

Here's an idea. What if a new administration - and let's say the Annan model can be ushered in as a temporary measure only - distributed shares in FIFA to every football club member - amateur and professional - around the world? Football is the world's most popular game, and estimates put the number of fans at 3.5 billion - roughly half the world's population. According to FIFA figures from 2006, players, refs and officials make up around 260 million of the fan base.

It's improbable that every fan is a football club member, but let's just say they are. That means 3.5 billion shares in the world game to be distributed. It sounds a lot but large multinational companies have share distribution numbers like this. Apple, as just one example, has issued almost exactly 3.5 billion shares. Such a number is not impossible.

Voting would be on the basis on one vote, one shareholder. This would go some way to mitigating the buying a selling of shares and the accumulation of shares and therefore power. Also the fact that there is no financial market for them would undermine them becoming commodities.

Voting would be online, and major meetings would be relayed on live streaming. The logistics seem possible.

And, to stop the grafting over World Cup venues, why not share them out? Perhaps games in each group are conducted in a given location and then the knock out series passes to yet another venue. That way 9 countries would host the cup not one or two.

Either way, what's happening now at FIFA is a game changer. It's up to us in the football family to seize the chance to make the game ours again. Fresh ideas are needed.


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