RWANDA, a country censured around the world for its poor human rights record, hosted global football governing body Fifa’s 73rd congress on Thursday, delegations from all 200-plus legal member nations being feted in typical extravagance by the rich Zurich-based organisation.
President Paul Kagame – accused of brutally suppressing dissenting voices and arbitrary arrests of opponents in his country – was two days before the big gathering handed the President’s Outstanding Achievement Award by Patrice Motsepe, head of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) and a vice-president of Fifa.
No one is surprised at all, though.
Fifa’s past is littered with cases of wining and dining with some of the world’s most brutal dictatorships in history.
The 1978 World Cup, for instance, went ahead in Argentina even after a democratic government had been overthrown in a coup, and replaced with a cruel military junta that caused the disappearance of thousands of innocent citizens without trace.
Even as prisoners of war in concentration camps could hear roars of merry crowds from nearby stadiums during the matches, Fifa let world football’s biggest party go ahead.
Hear no evil, see no evil.
The irony of it all is that the same Fifa is quick to act without compromise when even some well-meaning governments around the world, or their representatives, sanction errant member associations in a manner that the Zurich suits deem third-part interference.
How naïve and foolish it is for anybody to expect Fifa to change, or to try to change Fifa.
Why does Zimbabwe, of all countries in this sport, think Fifa can be moved an inch if this country was to totally disappear from the global football map?
On Thursday in Kigali, the members of Fifa voted overwhelmingly to uphold the suspension of Zimbabwe from international football.
199 of them, meaning that even the bulk of fellow African nations, come to think of it, were in agreement that Zimbabwe is a rogue member that ought to be kept in the wilderness.
I chuckled as I read somewhere that Fifa were prepared to readmit Zimbabwe, on our terms, if and when we see fit to return.
How special are we as Zimbabwe, really, that Fifa would be moved in the slightest to bend its own rules, creating a dangerous precedent for itself, as if the organisation and world football’s whole existence depend on it?
Of course they will not budge a tiny bit. Officials from the countries who remain in Fifa – including our fellow African brothers and sisters – will not shed a single tear for naughty little Zimbabwe. They will move on with their lives, as they continue to be fabulously banqueted by wealthy Fifa as happened late into the Kigali night on Thursday after the expensive shindig otherwise known as a congress.