Why A FIFA Penalty On Russia’s World Cup Would Score Winning Goal For Clean Sport

The pathway to clean sport must start with a period of introspection and honesty for those who have fallen foul of Fair Play - by Patrick B. Kraemer

Editorial: FIFA is the top of the world sports food chain. If it gets to keep its status quo, its World Cup in Russia, the message to the rest is clear: IOC, WADA, McLaren, Clean Sport – go to hell, we’ll do as we please here in our private members’ lounge. The status of International elite sport that speaks of inspiration, role models and the pursuit of excellence in a realm of Fair Play hangs on a thread. If the custodians of it all now fall shy of doing all they can to avoid the freak show, that thread will exist no longer. Drastic action is required, starting with a note to Russia from FIFA to say ‘so sorry but we want to help you and the youth of Russia understand the importance of clean – anti-doping and governance – sport if we are all to be here celebrating excellence together for many more years to come’. That is the best pathway for Russia, its young sports men and women and the wider world of sport

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Steve Levy

Craig, I’ve written several times about an Athletes’ organization for clean sports; if ever the time was ripe for such a group, this is it. This seems to be the logical next step in slaying the Doping Dragon.

From being part of the architecture team of another global association that is grounded in “guiding principles”, I propose a structure that includes a 7-person Board comprised of 4 alumni athletes whose careers have been aggrieved by doping and 3 current athletes who have taken a stand against doping in sports that is backed up with a 25-30 person Advisory Council comprised of current/alumni athletes, members of sports associations, medical personnel, psychologists, etc. It will be up to the Board and a Founding Committee to create and lead the Governance, Finance, Marketing, and Legal Committees that will give life to the organization.

The initial funding will come from the national sports association (e.g., USA Swimming here in the US); the amount of funding will be determined by the Finance Committee with participation by countries’ individual sports associations to be mandatory (unless they believe doping to be a good thing) – the cost to all current amateur athletes will be zero, with a nominal annual fee chosen for professional athletes. Monies will be used to hire an Executive Director – vetted by the Board and chosen by Members; produce educational content for athletes focused on life and in out of sports; grassroots education programs; lobby when needed; etc.

I can see many more branches of influence that can be architected into such an organization with one possible “ultimate” goal of being able to “impeach” a global organization (a vote of no confidence?) when it is clear that they’ve lost their focus…

Just a start. Thoughts?

Craig Lord

1st thought Steve (on a fairly complex issue – one that is far more simple once you have a body of folk as you describe assembled and able to carry the word of athletes to the line – and that line might well mean one year they would have to say “we’re not coming to your championships”… a hard call but not an impossible one if there is no other way): something not far from that is not far from the world, so to speak… BUT, in terms of federations funding it all, that may well be like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas: federations have shown themselves singularly incapable of supporting genuine athlete involvement in decision-making at international level. If any one can get leading federations such as USA Swimming and the other obvious choices to press for FINA review and reform and include in that recognition of an independent athlete representative body, that would be one of the building blocks to a brighter day for swimming. My experience tells me not to hold my breath. The vote of no confidence can already happen: it would mean those leading federations would need to do it. That is a relatively easy move — and yet, and yet, despite all that has happened, USA Swimming has thrown its weight behind FINA. I see no reason to be overly optimistic that the leading federations, regardless of what they might get right at home, are ready to press the intl body to do the right thing for the global sport; and that right thing means fundamental changes to the structures of governance. What you suggest is good but to some extent that mechanism/possibility already exists, without the backing of intentional athlete representation intent on pressing home the changes required.

Steve Levy

Craig (apologies for not writing sooner), I can take your answer and drop in the word “recruiting” in place and “swimming”, and easily concur. Yet I know that it really does take enough people who are tired of the years of political rhetoric – and who have already had their Peter Finch moment…

[this is so good that it needs to be here in its entirety]

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s no one anywhere that seems to know what to do with us.

Now into it. We know the air is unfit to breathe, our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides and 63 violent crimes as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy.

It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in a house as slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster, and TV, and my steel belted radials and I won’t say anything.” Well I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crying in the streets. All I know is first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being. God Dammit, my life has value.”

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” I want you to get up right now. Get up. Go to your windows, open your windows, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Things have got to change my friends. You’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open your window, stick your head out and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!

If the mechanism truly does exist, then let the George Bovell’s, Matthew Dunn’s, Shirley Babashoff’s, Michael Phelps’, Ruta Meilutyte’s, period, Evgeny Korotyshkin’s and Lilly King’s do what the Women’s Sports Foundation has done for equality, what the NFL Players Union has done for CTE.

You know the folks I mentioned – call them. Ask them if they’re really sick and tired and aren’t going to take it anymore…

Steve Levy

Peter Finch as Howard Beale…

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