Ethics, voice and organisational power plays

Alan Tomlinson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Between 1974 and early 2016 FIFA had two presidents, the Brazilian João Havelange and his successor the Swiss Joseph ‘Sepp' Blatter. Havelange won one election, against Englishman Stanley Rous to gain the presidency, and then was re-elected unopposed for a further five terms. Blatter was elected, defeating Lennart Johannson of UEFA, in 1998. He saw off challenges for the presidency from Issa Hayatou of Cameroon in 2002, and Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan in 2015. In 2007 and 2011 he had been re-elected unopposed. How did these two men secure eleven terms of office, spanning forty-two years? (Blatter also won a fifth term in May 2015, his election victory clouded by the indictment by the US Department of Justice of fourteen FIFA-connected personnel, and his tenure foreshortened by his decision - before his humiliation later in the year, when he was suspended and then banned by his own ethics committee - to stand down by February 2016.) How did FIFA and the global football world continue to anoint, and accept the autocratic and dictatorial presidential styles of, Havelange and Blatter? This chapter offers a small and focused argument focused upon a critical flaw in the organisational composition of FIFA, also manifest in the ethical vulnerability of numerous other world governing bodies of sport. It presents snapshots of Blatter strategies, considering how both before and since the establishment of an ethics process, dissent has been routinely silenced and collusion bordered on corruption until conditions conducive to the rise of emboldened and sustained critical voices emerged. In this context the reforming or transformational capacity of ethical processes are evaluated. The chapter begins with some theoretical reflections on the conditions and contexts in which social change can emerge and might stimulate reformed structures and practices that could be claimed as transformative.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransforming sport: knowledges, practices and structures
EditorsThomas Carter, Daniel Burdsey, Mark Doidge
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781138052246
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2018


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