Finally this week some of FIFA’s leadership has been indicted for bribery. I am hoping the indictments will keep coming. It has long been assumed by most who follow the sport that there, as Shakespeare said, “Something wrong in the state of Denmark.” First there was Brazil getting awarded the World Cup in 2014 when they clearly were not going to have the infrastructure to support the games, then Putin being awarded it for 2018 and then giving it to Dubai for 2022 which was the ultimate absurdity.
FIFA has run the sport of soccer — or as the rest of the world calls it football — for years. It has been the private fiefdom of Sepp Blatter since he was elected the head of FIFA in 1998. One would guess that if 14 members of his committee managed to get more than $150 million in bribes that his take would be even greater. He, of course, is saying he is “shocked and amazed” at this story. He’s been being investigated for years and it seems as if he might have been better at hiding his “extra” income than the 14 others, but my guess is that one of the fourteen will start squealing in order to get some sort of deal.
Soccer has been growing in the United States and it is a shame that it was being run worldwide by such a corrupt organization, but I am thrilled that it now is the target of the U.S. Justice Department so that it can be cleaned up eventually. The fact that Putin is angry about the indictments and arrests in Switzerland increases my pleasure. Putin clearly had a hand in bribing some of the Committee in order to get the 2018 World Cup. He is afraid he might lose it so he is the only head of state who has come out as horrified at America’s “overreach” in indicting these individuals. Let him sweat, but I doubt that he will lose 2018 at this point. Too bad.
Dubai, on the other hand, is far enough away that they could lose the World Cup in 2022. And they should. It is 120 in the shade in the summer in Dubai – I know, I’ve been there. That is just insane to put a World Cup there. It is even more absurd than Brazil and Russia. I like Dubai but I wouldn’t want to be there for a World Cup (for gold shopping perhaps but in January not anytime after April and before November).
Now we just have to hope that other indictments will come and that the entire FIFA structure is revamped and massive briberies will stop. Yes, I’m an optimist, but there is a slight chance that this investigation and following trials will shine a light so powerful on FIFA that it will be forced to change.