1963: most of you probably weren’t born. But one of the greatest news items was the Great Train Robbery In Great Britain. A group of 15 men stopped a mail train that also transported money and robbed it from 2.6 million pounds (with correction today’s value would be around 60 million Euro-divided by 15 is 4 million Euro per person).
The train driver got a knock on the head, nobody was killed and nothing was damaged. The robbers were sentenced to up to 30 years in jail.
Now it’s 2016: three officials of FIFA, Blatter, Valcke and Kattner robbed 71 million Euro (and still counting) of the organization they were supposed to lead and support. For this job they were handsomely paid. Divided by 3 this makes around 24 million Euro a person.
They regarded the federation they were supposed to govern as their personal wallet where they could take out money when and as much as it pleased them. Non-aggressive psychopaths. Just the same brand like the former president of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, his son, and their little gang, and they are not the only ones out there.
Still, none of these three is in jail nor will they spend the next 30 years in jail. My idea is that they won’t even see the inside of a jail at all. Kattners contract was terminated and Blatter and Valcke are banned from football-related activities for 8 and 12 years. Wow, that will teach them.
But what is wrong here socially speaking?
Maybe you remember Marion Jones, who spent time in jail as a result of her taking illegal performance enhancing agents. One of the athletes I coached, Erik Wijmeersch, has spent some time in jail, but was later acquitted of all charges.
I have been busting my brain about this (maybe I should start using nootropics) why this tremendous inequality in justice exists. Why officials can get away with serious offences and athletes in the meanwhile have to face jail and other disproportionate punishments for something like taking doping. How can we still talk about justice, or about level playing field. What surprises me even more that very few people in sports speak out about this.
I just read a book by a good colleague of mine, Frank Schaper , The Dictator Virus, (in Dutch) in which he meticulously analyzes the behavior of dictators past to present.
He concluded that that dictators show ten similar characteristics:
• self-enrichment (71 million Euro)
• cult-like behavior
• self-justification (everything is alright)
• propaganda (the first international World Forum of Ethics in Sports was hosted by FIFA)
• conservation of power (stay in power as long as possible)
• rule by terror or fear
Apart from the last factor, the people mentioned above display 9 out of 10 characteristics.
Since many sports politicians are talking about “cleaning up the sport”, why just not start at the very top?
A suggestion could be to bring the death penalty back for people who damage society on this scale. It happens. Government officials or CEO’s have been executed for economic crimes like embezzlement, bribery or even attempt of fraud. Execution is perceived as a way to get rid of incurable psychopaths, predators and dictators. Remember the Ceaucescu’s and Ghadaffi. ‘Good riddance’ as the British say.
My call to the people at the top of the sports federations is to demand the most severe punishment available. Not by sports arbitration and not some cowardly symbolic punishment, but to file suit at a criminal court. The coming months will show how the sports federations are taking stance in this case: are they ready to really and seriously change the world of sports or will it be a slap on wrist and just looking away.
Provocative thought, like I stated.