For the last few years, there has been a lot of talk about corporate corruption. It can probably be traced back to Enron, and the spate of corporate scandals that emerged at about the same time. More recently, the economic downturn has exposed some amazingly brazen corporate scandals, topped by the grand theft masterminded by Bernie Madoff.
Quite rightly, industries and countries alike are moving to try and cut out corruption at its source. The biggest danger is not rogue individuals (you can never stop them – the best you can hope for is to catch them early). The greatest danger is that corruption and rule breaking become endemic and “the accepted way” of doing business.
I remember as a young articled clerk at KPMG being stunned to be told by audit manager that a certain client account I was looking at was “for bribes”, because this was the “cost of doing business in the homelands” (the homeland states were puppet “countries” set aside for blacks in the old South Africa). Top multinationals, with the knowledge of their auditors, were involved in bribing corrupt local officials to make sure the wheels of industry kept turning. Maybe there was no other way. Maybe it was “how things worked”, but it didn’t help Africa, did it? We need to remove the CULTURE of corruption.
And there’s only one way to do this: immediate, brutal retribution when people are caught. One strike, and you’re out!
The reason I thought about this was because I watched the World Cup Qualifier between the Republic of Ireland and France last night. Ireland looked good to beat France, and force the game to penalties. This was a monumental result for them. But, in the dying minutes, Thierry Henry received a long ball just next to the goal, controlled it with his hand, and presented it to Gallas for an easy goal. Henry obviously knew he handled it – he handled it twice. In fact, he might as well have caught the ball and thrown it into the net. See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qZJrOcgkYM (see especially at 39 seconds!).
The best that FIFA could do now would be to ban Henry from the World Cup. He clearly cheated. He did it knowingly, willfully, and has fundamentally created personal advantage at extreme loss to others. This is corruption, and football is filled with it! They should use digital referees – why they’re scared of it, I don’t know. A quick replay, after the Irish appealed would have been enough to disallow the goal – and send Henry off! But, now that it’s obvious what happened, they need to send the strongest message.
But they won’t. Because it’s France. Because it’s Henry. And so, corruption will remain. And then we are surprised when it becomes endemic. There is no surprise here at all.
Ban Henry from the World Cup. That will send the right message.