IFAB, You FAB, We All FAB
Posted on July 5, 2012 1:38 pm
Sepp Blatter really hates the International Football Association Board.
That’s mostly because, alone among all the deliberative bodies of international football, it’s the one he can’t order to do his bidding.
The IFAB, as you probably know, is made up of eight members, representing:
2) Northern Ireland
5) Sepp Blatter
6) Sepp Blatter
7) Sepp Blatter
8) Sepp Blatter
Since six votes are required to alter so much as a comma or a paragraph break in the rule book, the President of FIFA cannot unilaterally order up changes in the Laws of the Game.
This inconvenience – call it an anachronism if you must – grates on Sepp’s nerves, and it’s why he has long dreamed of changing the makeup of the IFAB so that it is more “democratic”, by which he means “firmly in my pocket”.
So while, on the face of it, one can easily say “Gee, why should this creaky old antiquated system, clearly a vestige of colonialist oppression, white supremacy and imperialist dogmas, still be in place in our modern, democratic, multicultural wonderful new world”, well, it’s because the IFAB is the only thing standing between Sepp and the game itself.
All those in favor of Sepp Blatter – or whatever old, gray fatass replaces him in 2015 – having more personal power over the way the game is played please raise your hands.
Sometime today – perhaps even as we speak – the IFAB, in a “Special Meeting” in Zurich (normally the Board meets in one of the four permanent member countries, something else which Sepp no doubt finds annoying) will decide the immediate fate of the now familiar “Goal Line Technology”, otherwise referred to by its shiny new acronym, “GLT”.
Interestingly, the four British members have always been more or less in favor of approval as long as someone could come up with a rock solid infallible system. It has been the four members who do Sepp Blatter’s personal bidding who have been reluctant to go along.
Until Euro 2012.
Now it’s true that UEFA, in the person of Michel Platini, still feels that the extra goal line official is the way to go, and he’s sent a long, plaintive letter to the Board asking for more time to discuss, consider and think about this whole deal.
And it’s surely not a coincidence that Pierluigi Collina, UEFA’s Supervisor of Officials, is saying that in all of the over 1000 matches in which their system has been employed it has only failed once.
I’m sure it’s true. I’m also sure that it doesn’t matter. When it mattered, when the whole world was watching, it failed. Sorry Mr. Collina. Please don’t eat me.
The salient point today is simply this:
Looking at the list of eight gentlemen who will make this decision today, we see that the Brits (who are in favor) have four votes and Sepp (who is in favor) has four votes and UEFA (who is opposed) has no votes at all.
It’s really just that simple.
Also on the agenda today is the final approval of the head-”scarf” (for lack of a better term) designed for use by female Muslim players.
This was an issue which was supposed to have been resolved last month, as the concept was actually approved by the IFAB back in March, but they wanted certification from FIFA’s medical people that it was safe.
But to everyone’s surprise and chagrin, FIFA’s Chief Physician, one Dr. Michel D’Hooghe, told the Executive Committee that he and his people still had reservations about the safety of the final model, which is a velcro closure thingie (the previous design had a zipper) which, in theory, will tear off before some poor woman’s neck is severely damaged.
FIFA VP from Asia – and of course ExCo member – Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan (along with the rest of the Middle Eastern feds) was absolutely livid over the delay and, although nothing has changed and no further testing or evaluation has been conducted, a very much chastised Dr. D’Hooghe is scheduled to appear today with a glowing report on the thing.
The only surprise will be if he doesn’t walk in the room wearing one.
That doesn’t mean it’s not extremely controversial in some circles, with one side feeling that the whole thing is just another example of how Islam oppresses women while Muslims – led by the ubiquitous Prince Ali – claim that what they’re doing is really striking a blow for women’s “equality”.
Whichever is closer to the truth, the bottom line is that if this thing is not approved then a lot of women won’t be allowed to play, so there’s really not much choice.
In an ideal world perhaps there’d be a way to determine how the athletes themselves really feel about it, instead of having to rely solely on the assurances of a bunch of old men that of course the girls are simply delighted about wearing these things.
In the end, however, that’s exactly who’s making this call; 24 old men on the FIFA Executive Committee, eight old men on the IFAB and a dozen or so old men on the AFC board.
Not a woman in sight. Not even one wearing a velcro-enclosed head garment.