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Sports Features of Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Source: Kuunifaa, Cletus D.

Where FIFA got it wrong in Brazil

By Cletus D Kuunifaa
The World Cup has come to an end with Germany grinding it out to a lone goal victory in extra time, courtesy Mario Gotze’s 113th minute goal. While Brazil has been praised for a successful organization of the event, Sepp Blatter and his coterie have a long to-do-list to check to deal with to improve the game.

Not only is there disappointment about FIFA’s ranking system which I find to be rubbish and wrote about it ( See Sports Features of Wednesday, 2 July 2014), but I am equally appalled about the distribution of the officiating officials at the just ended World Cup in Brazil.

As readers might be aware, when the world football governing body, unveiled the list of 25 trios and eight support duos, making up a total of 91 officials, that would oversee games this summer, conspicuous absence was officiating officials from Ghana and Nigeria.
Africa was represented by officials from La Cote D’Ivoire, Burundi, The Gambia, Cameroon, Rwanda, Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, Senegal and Kenya. The two soccer power houses in Africa were absent. (http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/organisation/referees/index.html). FIFA explained that, “the referees selected for the World Cup in Brazil have been chosen based especially on their personality and their quality in football understanding by being able to read the game and the teams’ tactical approaches towards each game.” What a load of absolute nonsense!

Understanding the game? And yet we saw biased officiating from a host of these officiating officials. The Mexican team coach will blame their exit on poor calls from the officiating officials, while the Brazilian team has been protected in most of their games until they met their nemesis in the hands of the Germans in the semi-final match.
Nigerian coach, Stephen Keshi, would lash out at the referee after his side lost 2-0 to France in the World Cup last 16 in Brasilia the other day. Keshi said, “The referee is a human being and is bound to make mistakes, but a lot of mistakes are questionable,” “I’m not happy with the officiating.” He opined. (http://article.wn.com/view/2014/06/30/Nigeria_coach_Stephen_Keshi_hits_out_at_referee_after_France_8/)

FIFA is supposedly wary of fair play as well as campaign against racism, but painfully lacks the little things that need to be done to propel it as the fair and unbiased international institution that it claimed to be.

The purpose of this piece is to further push and pin FIFA against the wall for the glaring oversight to observe a minute silence and or construct whatever form of recognition via print, audio or video, which would have attracted international attention for the over 200 Nigerian girls abducted (including the casualties) by Boko Haram, a terrorist group.

What a perfect unbiased idea it would have been for a minute silence to be observed for the unfortunate incident that happened in Nigeria in one of their matches! Yet, that did not happen because FIFA did not find it expedient and compelling to do so.
Malala Yousafzai is even better than FIFA. The little Pakistani rights activist, Malala Yousafzai, met Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan to press for more action to free the more than 200 girls held by militant Islamists.
Malala met relatives of the girls, expressing solidarity with them at a meeting in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, on Sunday. She said, "I can feel... the circumstances under which you are suffering," "It's quite difficult for a parent to know that their daughter is in great danger. My birthday wish this year is... bring back our girls now and alive." http://www.myjoyonline.com/world/2014/July-14th/malala-meets-goodluck-jonathan-over-chibok-girls.php

This was a simple gesture from a little girl in her bid to draw attention to the fate of the girls in limbo to be compared with how FIFA would have drawn a bigger, bigger attention to the plight of these abducted girls.

Instead, FIFA found time at the slightest notice to slot in time to observe a minute silence for one Argentine Alfredo Di Stefano who passed. FIFA decided together with the Argentina Football Association and Real Madrid, that the global football community will pay tribute to one Alfredo Di Stefano at the FIFA World Cup semi-final match between the national teams of the Netherlands and Argentina. Truly, a moment of silence was held ahead of the match in memory of Di Stefano and a picture of him shown on the stadium’s giant screen. Furthermore, Argentina’s national team wore black armbands. (http://fansided.com/2014/07/09/world-cup-semifinal-will-honor-alfredo-di-stefano-moment-silence/#!be24CV)

I do not care about the exploit of an 88 year old who passed. I do rather care about the future of these young girls abducted in Nigeria and a minute silence for the casualties and some verbalized statement would have been a huge accomplishment from FIFA in their fight against racism and bias.

Had FIFA offered a minute silence for these young girls (the casualties), it would have been considered one of the greatest moments in soccer history. It would have been a simple and elegant show of respect and fairness, much as it would have drawn international attention to the plight of these girls.

When these innocent girls, yet to achieve their potential are deprived of their fundamental human rights, I trust the World Cup would have been a legitimate venue to denounce such acts. Unfortunately, FIFA could not pass this test to instruct a minute silence to show respect to Nigeria in particular and to Africa in general. What a shame especially that Nigeria and Argentina were in the same group.

This goes a long way to explain how FIFA is a sham and we must protest against this ill-treatment meted out to African teams. Instead of our football authorities to be concerned about the lapse of judgment on the part of FIFA and argue for better treatment for Africa teams, we see them present themselves as stooges and tongued tied on pertinent and thorny issues regarding Africa teams. When will this mediocrity end from our football authorities ?
By Cletus D. Kuunifaa,
LIU Post, New York.
TMC Group
Can be contacted at dipnibe@yahoo.com or Follow him on twitter @ckuunifaa

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