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John Reid


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From: The Socialist issue 891, 2 March 2016: Socialism back on the agenda

Search site for keywords: Football - Working class - Sport - Big business - John Reid

Fifa: invest in working class sport, not profits

Young woman playing football, photo by James Boyes (Creative Commons)

Young woman playing football, photo by James Boyes (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Jane Nellist

Fifa, football's corruption-ridden international governing body, elected its new president on 26 February.

I'm a lifelong Baggies supporter (West Bromwich Albion). Like millions of working people across our planet, I enjoy the thrills, as well as the frustrations, of a game of football. It offers 90 minutes of escape from the drudgery of living under capitalism and the pressure of work and austerity.

But just as workers in their workplaces are exploited by big business, those at the top of the organisations that run football exploit the fans.

It's often described as the 'beautiful game'. But behind it lie ugly, bribe-taking, pro-big business organisations, the biggest being Fifa itself.

Even a scene from the new Sacha Baron Cohen film Grimsby refers to this. The main character, Nobby, a football hooligan, is told by his brother, a top spy: "Meet the head of the biggest crime syndicate in the world." Nobby replies: "What, she runs Fifa?"

The big question for football fans around the world is: can Fifa reform itself? New president Gianni Infantino spent 500,000 of European football organisation Uefa's money to travel the world in the run-up to the election.

Can Infantino fumigate this multi-billion pound organisation of the stench of corruption? I don't think so. It's too infected with greed and bribery for us to have any faith in it.

Football's huge profits should be democratically controlled by fans, and invested in local communities across the world. To enable boys and girls to enjoy the true spirit of the game. The social interaction, team work, discipline, exercise - the joy of playing.

As the Socialist Party's John Reid has excellently argued in his sell-out book Reclaim the Game: "the fight to democratise football is linked with getting rid of big business domination within it." It's time to show Fifa the red card!

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Article dated 2 March 2016

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