Why we should pay attention to FIFA

Even a casual fan like myself of soccer knows when the team they are supporting is getting jobbed! What is extra time? Is it more time to get the right score so betters can make a huge profit and honest fans to be disappointed? It shouldn’t come as any surprise that there is a huge probe going on right now of FIFA.

Nine officials are awaiting extradition to the US and all eyes are on the proceedings. The president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, has just won re-election. Funny how the developed countries of the world are up in arms while others are rejoicing. What defines developed you may ask? Well, if you live in a G-8 country you’re in a developed country. If you are in Europe, the US or Russia, you are in a developed country. I guess you could throw China in there too.

FIFA is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. We can’t delude ourselves and think that American football or other sports are bigger than soccer. Look around. The money that flows from soccer is insane. Blatter has done well to keep his hands out of the till, or so it would appear. He has “purchased loyalty” in smaller nations by bringing investment dollars to build stadiums and promote soccer, or as others call it futbol, around the world. What happens when millions of dollars drop from the sky like manna from heaven? Graft. The money you pay to support the enterprise of soccer eventually gets into the hands of some businessman in a far-flung place and is used to make him rich.

Should you care? Maybe. Corruption is nothing new. Even in the US, we see it manifest itself in many different ways. But where is the line? When does it end? Because each member country in FIFA has one vote, the bigger players like England, the United States and Germany can’t influence the process as much as they could at another venue like the United Nations. Ironic isn’t it? You can organize a coalition of willing or not so willing nations to go to war and violate another countries sovereign rights to govern itself but you can’t sway other voters to get rid of a president whom you think may be at the heart of the corruption you see.

Well if you can’t take down the king, you go after his knights, rooks and bishops. The hope is, someone is going to dime him out and give you what you need to force a resignation. The question is: what does Blatter really know? Is he part of the corruption or oblivious to what is going on around him? What if he gets set up by one of his underlings who just wants to shave some time off of a prison sentence in a not so cozy prison cell in the United States?

Where is the line? Where does the corruption stop? Is it just part of the machine and doesn’t impact the outcome of the soccer match. Who else is taking money? Are the players, coaches and other people who have a direct impact on the outcome of the game also involved? It makes you wonder. The outcome could change the most popular sport in the world.

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