In Defense of FIFA

There seems to be an endless stream of accusations, scandals and denouncements of FIFA in the last few days. FIFA has, of course, been a byword for corruption. David Yallop wrote an expose as far back as 1999 (republished in 2011) called How They Stole the Game. However, Sepp Blatter has massive support among many poorer footballing countries. He argues, rightly in many cases, that he is attacked by the powerful nations because he is a friend of the smaller nations. I don’t want to argue one way or the other.

The question that emerges here is whether it is acceptable to pay bribes to do good? This may seem a crazy given the Old Testament teaching on bribery and corruption. (Ex.23:8, Deut. 16:19, Deut. 27:25, 1 Sam. 12:3, 1 Sam. 8:3, Ps. 15:5, Amos 5:12, 13, Micah 3:11, etc.).

Firstly, what is the difference between a bribe, a tip and a gift? Is there such a huge difference between a bribe and tip? A tip is often given to ensure good service the next time; is this not simply a bribe given a long time before the next service rendered?

Think about this case. Two Christian development agencies in a Majority world country both received new airplanes to support their work i.e. movement of national and expatriate workers and medical supplies. The new aircraft were presented, with all the correct documentation for registration by this country’s Aviation Authority. In both cases an additional fee was asked to enable the authorities to proceed. The additional fee was a none too well disguised bribe. (“Do you have a little gift?” is the usual way of putting it).

One agency paid this additional “fee” and its aircraft began operating within days, so it immediately began to fulfil the needy and heavy programme it was destined for.

The second agency  refused to pay this additional “fee”, because part of their policy was to give an example of how to function without bribery. The result was that it took 10 months of  requests that their plane was finally registered. Although this was achieved without paying the “fee” of about US$200. The aircraft had to be mended because it hadn’t been used: to the cost of US$10,000.

During those eight months that the plane was not used, sick people were denied transport, medical supplies were not distributed.

This is a case which I remember using in Argentina and at All Nations, where we called it “Greasing palms or Oiling Wheels.” What do you think?