Football is perhaps the world's most popular sporting and cultural institution. With the awarding of the World Cup 2034 to Saudi Arabia, global football has definitively lost its integrity. FIFA has sold its soul. While national football associations and supporters in Europe do not agree with holding World Cups in countries which commit gross human rights abuses, they still depend on FIFA for the representation of their teams in World Cup and other football competitions. Clubs, media and global football organisations have become the property of countries and companies that prefer money and power over the love of the game. Nation states have started to use ownership of our football clubs as vehicles for soft power and sportswashing.
As a result, the total ownership of the game of football now lies completely out of the control and influence of the people who created it in the past and who still love the game the most. Football feels increasingly separated from its roots in our many and diverse communities.
One of the worst examples of this disconnect between the interests of the fans and the selling of the soul of football is the deal between the Saudi dictatorship and the Spanish Football Association. The rights to the Super Cup were sold to the Saudi regime in a multi million Euro deal, which means the competition is played on another continent. As well as increasing the carbon footprint this shows a total disregard for Spanish football fans who cannot afford to travel to Saudi Arabia to see their team. It also makes LGBTQI+ and women football fans feel excluded as Saudi Arabia criminalizes gay people and women do not have equal rights. Athletic Bilbao midfielder Raul Garcia called the decision to play ‘La Supa Copa’ in Saudi Arabia, a "complete nonsense" and said that "fans have been forgotten" because "football now is all about making money and finding sponsors."
The game of football needs a reset. A new balance in which the fans, supporters and other passionate football enthusiasts regain part of the ownership and in which money functions as a facilitator to improve and innovate the game instead of being merely a goal. We need to reclaim the game!
For fans, football is an important part of their lives. Therefore it should represent universal values in life like integrity, honesty and equality of all people. The beautiful game should be organized in a democratic way. Football democracy would mean the fans choosing the leadership of clubs, national unions and global representation. Sponsors and money should be a way to improve and enhance the game, not the overriding goal as it is unfortunately becoming. Concentrating the power and wealth in fewer and fewer hands in the football pyramid, including nation state and multi-club ownership is not sustainable financially or acceptable morally. If football ceases to have a level playing field it will no longer be a sport.
1. Legislation in Europe on ownership of football clubs before 2034. Nation states cannot be allowed to own our football clubs. Companies have to apply the historic and democratic values of the game and fans must be involved in the ownership.
2. A reinvention of the global organization (currently FIFA) of the game. There have been numerous cases of corruption and vote rigging at the top levels of FIFA. For the sake of the future of football as a sport for and by the people rather than as a money making plaything of the mega-rich, fundamental changes in the administration of the game are urgently needed. Fans and democracy are the starting point.
3. Opposition to the proposed World Cup in Saudi Arabia. Human rights abusing dictatorships cannot be allowed to use the beautiful game to sportswash away their crimes.
4. Appeal to football associations, legislators, players and fans in Europe to boycott the 2034 World Cup and if it goes ahead to organize an alternative ‘Human Rights’ World Cup.
5. Urge sponsors to rethink their support for dictatorships hosting events, safeguarding human rights, and upholding CSR values.
Unite and communicate with the same message and apply pressure on those people and organizations that can contribute to our mission and who approve of our vision.