FIFA Congress asked to be ‘on right side of history’
27 May 2015
Zurich commuters were amazed and delighted this morning when handed a complimentary ‘newspaper’ full of good news related to the world governing body of football, FIFA, which is having its annual Congress in the city this week.
The spoof newspaper, using the masthead of the now defunct International Herald Tribune, contained the type of headlines and news that football fans have long been hoping for – and comes on top of real news from the ‘New York Times’ this morning about the arrest of FIFA officials.
The newspaper was also hand-delivered to the 209 Presidents of football associations and the members of the FIFA Executive Committee who are in Zurich.
“Today we’re showing FIFA Congress and sponsors the type of headlines football fans would like to see,” explained Jaimie Fuller, the publisher of the parody publication and Chairman of Swiss-based global sportswear company, SKINS, who is FIFA’s first Official Non-Sponsor.
Fuller is also a leading figure with #NewFIFANow, the FIFA pressure group that was established in January advocating for major change in FIFA.
“Whether it be a re-run of the 2018/2022 decision, or FIFA sponsors doing something positive about reform, or Sepp Blatter himself introducing sweeping reforms, this newspaper has the type of good news that fans want.”
“We’ve also included some fun items such as advertisements for watches, handbags, pearls and tickets for Russia 2018,” Mr Fuller said.
Other items include a fantasy interview with disgraced FIFA official, Jack Warner, on his ‘tsunami’ of allegations against FIFA; a travel feature with Michael J Garcia, the former Ethics Committee chief who travelled the world and found nothing wrong with the bidding process; hot property deals in the likes of Qatar, Cyprus, Trinidad and Russia; and an ‘agony aunt’ column of a FIFA consultant.
But as much as the newspaper is a spoof, it also has a serious message to Congress and to sponsors, Fuller says
The editorial notes that: ‘We love football, but we abhor, and are embarrassed by, FIFA.’
It states: ‘If FIFA Congress or FIFA’s partners and sponsors are not willing or able to take a stand, they will one day find themselves condemned: for inaction when they could have taken action; for being feeble when they could have shown some leadership; for remaining silent instead of speaking-up.’
The editorial goes on to ask the 209 members of the FIFA Congress who are in Zurich for the meeting and Presidential vote on Friday to ‘be on the right side of history’ and to show people that they love the game more than they love their role in it.
Fuller said this was even more pertinent with the news today that ten FIFA officials had been arrested in Zurich.
“This game has been the subject of serial allegations of corruption and poor management for decades.
“Now is the time for the sponsors to demand an independent FIFA Reform Commission to develop and implement new statutes and policies, and a new committee system and electoral process.”
Fuller said this is the key reform mechanism advocated by #NewFIFANow.
“People want change. An independent FIFA Reform Commission is the only way in which FIFA can bring back some confidence and trust into the administration of the game.”
The message to sponsors echoes that of the joint campaign launched by Fuller, #NewFIFANow, the International Trade Union Congress and Playfair Qatar last week.
Fans were encouraged to write to FIFA’s eight major sponsors about the ‘hypocrisy’ of the sponsors’ corporate and workforce values and their funding of FIFA, which takes a non-interventionist approach to issues such as migrant workers’ rights and the kafala system in Qatar.
“FIFA is in crisis, said ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow.
“Today’s arrest of officials for alleged corruption means any election for President will be a farce.
“Sepp Blatter must stand down and the Swiss authorities should put FIFA under judicial oversight.
“It’s time to put integrity back into the great game of football. Workers building World Cup infrastructure in Russia and Qatar and FIFA sponsors deserve nothing less.”
The idea for the parody paper was inspired by ‘The Yes Men’, a Canadian comedy duo, who pulled a similar stunt after President Barack Obama was elected using The New York Times.
Fuller said the paper’s writers came from three continents and eight countries and included British journalist and writer, Andrew Jennings and former FIFA staffer and cartoonist, Ole Andersen. It was put together in Australia.
The pretend International Herald Tribune is available online for fans to enjoy in English, French, German and Spanish at www.newfifanow.org or www.officialnonsponsor.com.