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With respect to all of the recent headlines regarding FIFA, Sepp Blatter, and corruption, there are several aspects that don't make sense to me. For instance:

  1. Why does FIFA have the power to conduct trials, issue fines and bans, and otherwise exercise powers that are generally reserved for the judiciary branch of a sovereign government, and from whence does this power over private individuals derive?

  2. How can FIFA ban someone from an entire sport? What does being banned from an entire sport even mean?

  3. If there's such corruption in FIFA, why do football teams allow FIFA to have so much influence over their sport in the first place instead of just looking elsewhere and/or doing their own thing?

  4. Who gave FIFA control of all of football in the first place?

  5. Why is nobody proposing a world where people continue playing football, without FIFA? That seems like such an obvious solution to the corruption issue to me, but I'm guessing in actual fact it's not?

Can someone shed some light upon what's going on, and especially upon the background details about how/why FIFA wields so much influence over an entire sport (and continues to do so, despite such obvious corruption)?

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    3: Teams/Club leaders might be corrupt too unfortunately ;) – Don_Biglia Dec 22 '15 at 9:25
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FIFA has complete control over all footballing activities in the world since it is the recognized regulatory body for the sport of football. Every sport has its own international regulatory body. For example: International Tennis Federation (ITF) for tennis, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for athletics, etc. These regulatory(or governing) federations become official only after receiving recognition as the official governing bodies for the sport by the International Olympic Council (IOC).

As the official governing body for football, FIFA has the following roles and responsibilities:

  • FIFA has the duty to maintain top notch standards in soccer.
  • It is tasked with administering the world soccer associations.
  • It is in charge of organizing and promoting the tournaments.
  • It is in charge of governing field matters relating to soccer.
  • The body is responsible for constant development of soccer.
  • It relies on the statutes to govern the system.
  • It is also in charge of the Laws of the Game which are maintained by International Football Association Board (IFAB).

In answer to your questions:

  1. FIFA has no powers like any judiciary body of a sovereign nation. FIFA can only govern in matters relating to the sport of football. Hence any trials, fines and bans will be in direct relation to the sport of football or footballing activities. FIFA's 'power' over private individuals extends only to their participation in footballing activities, including but not restricted to, playing the game or managing a team in any competitive game and taking part in any form of governance of football related activities.

  2. Being banned from football means the person is not allowed to take part in any activities pertaining to football, i.e., they cannot hold any positions in football governing bodies, and they cannot be part of a team(player or manager) in any competitive match. They can be allowed to watch football games, if they purchase the tickets privately. Some people might not be allowed to even do that, which means they have been given a 'stadium ban'.

  3. As to the corruption, well nobody can do anything about it, except the Ethics Committee in FIFA or the Court for Arbitration in Sport(CAS). Expecting the clubs to do something about FIFA's corruption is like expecting a player to show a red card to a referee in a football match. There is no chance of that scenario occurring whatsoever (even if it does happen, it will only result in the player getting into a lot of trouble). The maximum clubs can do is file a case against FIFA with CAS, although I don't see that happening, since none of the clubs have been directly affected by the corruption that has currently put FIFA in the limelight.

  4. FIFA was recognized as the world governing body for football by the first few nations to play the sport in the early 1900's. FIFA's position became official upon recognition by the IOC as the the governing body for football in the world.

  5. Asking football to continue without FIFA is like asking for a match to be played without a referee. Apart from the fact that FIFA governs football all over the world, FIFA also organizes tournaments like the World Cup, Youth World Cup, etc and has other roles and responsibilities as described above. A solution to what you are asking would be to disband FIFA and create another regulatory body for football. But the problem here is not FIFA, but the people running FIFA. Hence, even disbanding FIFA would make no sense if the same people are running the new governing body. The real solution is to get rid of the corrupt people, and ensure FIFA is being run in a clean and transparent way. Hence, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFA Vice-President Michel Platini have been given 8 year bans upon being found guilty of corruption by the FIFA Ethics Committee.

  • Thanks for the detailed answer. With respect to #1, do you mean that if I were to play a game of football on a local team and do something both disgraceful and football-related then FIFA would have power to intervene even if I've never entered into any agreement to abide by FIFA's terms? And the same if I were to scrape up enough money to purchase a world-class team; FIFA could dictate what I can do with that team even if I don't enter into any direct agreement with them? I'm still somewhat confused about how they can preside over everything football-related. – aroth Dec 22 '15 at 7:10
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    @aroth. Many (or most?) local teams will be part of the governing pyramid that has FIFA at the top. Usually as a player you will only interact with your club and a local governing body, but they will subscribe directly (or indirectly via a national football association) to FIFA. But if you want to step outside the FIFA pyramid, nobody can stop you. And Sepp Blatter could still play football with some friends in the park despite a FIFA ban. Your private football team could play other private teams whenever they want. – Fillet Dec 22 '15 at 15:21
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    To address your point about "purchasing a world-class team", FIFA can't control everything that you can do with that team and, I believe, you could choose not to interact with them. But then you likely would not be able to compete in whatever league the team is a part of (since the league likely recognizes FIFA) and likely would not be able to partake in things like the Champions' League or other International Competitions (which are also governed, ultimately, by FIFA). – Duncan Dec 22 '15 at 18:49
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FIFA has the power to do so because the various nations, and by proxy the various players, agree to give it that power. It is very similar to the NCAA in the US; it has no "legal" authority, and at any point any of its members could simply walk away. That's not a theoretical point; speculation has been going for years that the European and South American nations might pull out of FIFA in order to form a new body that is more in their favor (as opposed to in the favor of smaller nations, as FIFA was set up to be).

In any event, the various nations and leagues agree to give it this power because it serves a useful purpose to them: it is a "neutral" body that can serve to act as judge and jury in disputes between nations, and set ground rules that all can follow. If FIFA didn't exist, some other body would, and would serve largely the same purposes. Whether they would have the same issues is an interesting question in and of itself.

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