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Saturday, May 30, 2015

FIFA Corruption Scandal – The Empire Strikes Back?

sepp4 Oh, what a twisted web of deceit, lies, and whispers has manifested itself in regard to the ever-growing FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) corruption scandal that threatens to blow apart not just the governing organization for international football (soccer for we Yanks) but perhaps the sport itself. For those of you who think the game is the most important thing, there may be great disappointment as the ugly monsters involved in creating this mess rear their ugly heads.

Some American fans of the game became very involved in the last World Cup (FIFA’s crown jewel) and are maybe wondering why the accusations of corruption are coming from the United States Justice Department. The answer is that the “corruption” noted here is a series of alleged behind the scenes deals made by top FIFA officials. These deals not only involve which country gets the World Cup (held every four years in a different host country) but also the TV networks that get to broadcast the event (not to mention the $1.6 billion marketing rights for companies like Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and VISA).

sepp5The suspicion has long been there that millions and millions of dollars of “bribes” have passed under the table by those indicted, and since the World Cup is equivalent in status to a country hosting the Olympic games, it is an obvious fact this lucrative event can be extremely important to the host country’s economy.

Is it surprising that Russian President Vladimir Putin, always staunchly defending his machinations either in securing the Olympics or a place like Crimea, has come out blasting the United States for the indictments? I guess he is just defending his buddy Sepp (Emperor of the FIFA Empire) Blatter who oversaw the selection process that awarded Russia the 2018 World Cup.

sepp1As for the recently re-elected FIFA president Sepp Blatter (does that not sound like the name of a Star Wars villain to you?) he has been defiant against the accusations he is involved in corruption as those indicted and FIFA in general; however, it has been suggested that a good deal of that under the table “slush” money is involved in paying off many of the 209 member nations (133 of the 209 voted to re-elect Blatter emperor, I mean president) to sway their votes. Talking about the charges of $150 million in illicit funds used by the indicted FIFA officials, Blatter said that “it is not a coincidence” that these charges and arrests came on the eve of Blatter’s bid for re-election. He went on to say:
There are unmistakable signs: The Americans were candidates for the 2022 World Cup, and they lost. The English were candidates for the 2018 World Cup. They lost! If the Americans want to get involved in money or common law offenses relating to North and South American citizens, they should arrest them there, but not in Zurich when there is a congress.
Blatter’s striking back not just on his own behalf but for the empire of which he maintains control. And what a lucrative empire it is, and everyone involved knows it especially the newly re-crowned leader. When that much money is involved in any organization, there are always possibilities for corruption. Blatter has heard all the talk before, so it is not like he is completely shocked by this action by the Justice Department as he now pretends to be.

The United States was supporting Blatter’s main opponent for the presidency (Prince Ali of Jordan), and Blatter tried some smoke and mirrors by mentioning that and how the U.S. and Britain were out to get him because both lost the World Cup to Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022) respectively (the Swiss have lodged another investigation in this matter). Blatter refused to directly answer questions regarding the indictments or the rumors of his own involvement in corruption beyond this specific scandal.

sepp3Why does any of this matter, you may ask? You can laugh about the integrity of the game and the purity of the sport, but these things happening in executive offices do have a direct affect on what’s happening on the pitch all around the world. The World Cup is not just one country’s event or that of one group – it is the people’s sport and they have a right to enjoy matches played under proper and legitimate oversight by FIFA, and a major sporting event such as the World Cup should happen in countries that have been chosen through an equitable and understandable process.

Some are whispering that Emperor Blatter’s days are numbered, but with a guy like Darth Putin in his corner, it seems like it will be a drawn out slugfest. For now Blatter has an obligation as head of FIFA to open the books, allow complete transparency, and not make attempts to obfuscate the process. Only time will tell if he cooperates, or will he call on the dark side to continue to spread the nefarious tentacles of his underlings to widen the corruption?

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MAY 27: A FIFA logo sits next to the entrance to the FIFA headquarters on May 27, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. Swiss police on Wednesday raided a Zurich hotel to detain top FIFA football officials as part of a US investigation into corruption. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)The indisputable truth is that the players and the fans deserve better than what they have right now, and young fans especially need to see that this investigation is handled with integrity and honesty. If things go poorly and even more corruption is uncovered, not only the players and fans will suffer, but the whole sport – perhaps irreparably.





  Photo credits: CNN, Getty Images, 10thyearseniors.com, businessinsider.com,duke.edu

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