FIFA Corruption & Greed: An Imams View

“The Football industry is one of the most well paid and financially lucrative industries in the world, yet it seems to be rife with corruption and fraud. Greed is, indeed, one of the deadly sins.” – Qari Muhammad Asim

On Wednesday, 27th May news broke of arrests that had taken place in Zurich by Swiss police in connection with allegations of fraud and corruption in FIFA’s dealings with Russia and Qatar over their bids for hosting the World Cup in 2018 and 2022. These arrests have rocked the upper echelons of world footballs governing body and with FIFA’s coveted elections set to take place on Friday 29th May; it has caused widespread condemnation and calls for immediate postponement of this election.

For those that follow football closely news and allegations about fraud, corruption and general mischief from within FIFA is nothing new. Avid supporters of the game have been calling for inquests into FIFA’s dealings for a long time now – the allegations go back decades and the fingers of blame have pointed towards incumbent President Sepp Blatter to be ousted from football’s top job.

Greed and Islam – Lessons to be learnt

The allegations will continue to come, investigations are being held and there is quiet optimism between followers of football that justice may well be served to those at fault so that we may finally see significant, positive change in the way football is governed. It is no hidden fact that the football industry is one of the most well paid and financially lucrative industries in the world, and yet it seems to be rife with corruption and fraud. As it is always said, greed is indeed one of the deadly sins.

From the Islamic perspective, we must come to understand the importance placed on financial dealings between parties and the harm greed and corruption causes. It is made explicit in several verses of the Qur’an and in narrations of the Prophet (pbuh) about the harm greed causes, the responsibility upon the shoulders of those elected as public servants and the need for transparency in transactions.

A poignant hadith (narration) of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says,

“Beware of greed because the people before you perished from it. Greed led them to be miserly so they became misers. Greed led them to break the ties (of kinship) so they broke it. Greed led them to sins so they committed sins”.

[Abu Dawud]

It is also said in the Qur’an,

“And eat up not one another’s property unjustly, nor give bribery to the rulers that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully.”

[Quran 2:188]

The overriding commandment in Islam regarding corruption, bribery and fraud is to stay away from it as it is nothing more than a catalyst to further harm. Fraud and corruption begins a cycle of confusion and distrust between people that becomes very difficult to rectify.

The likes of FIFA and other governing bodies, whether they are sport related or otherwise, have been given status by the people to enact good and encourage development. The key here is the role sport plays in inspiring young generations to achieve great things. There is a responsibility on the shoulders of all those within these bodies to display themselves as role models that are accountable should they do something wrong.

These most recent allegations and the subsequent investigations that are going on have once again damaged the reputation and painted a very sad image of FIFA. There seems to be something deeply wrong in the heart of international football and so it is imperative that the governing body deeply reflects on its performance and public perception and resolves to reform its methods and start rebuilding bridges of trust.

Note: The views expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect that of ImamsOnline.


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