The International Federation of Association Football is a Goliath-like figure in the world of sports, yet the Average American cannot appreciate the power this organization wields globally. Yes, FIFA is corrupt; it is one of the great open secrets in the football (soccer) world. The HBO series Last Week Tonight With John Oliver touched on the scandalous nature of FIFA on a recent episode.
As pointed out in Last Week, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is a highly controversial figure, one who many see as the biggest source of corruption behind FIFA. As John Oliver pointed out, it was on his watch that Qatar was awarded a chance to host a World Cup. This country, despite its massive wealth, is hilariously unsuited to host such an event during the summer. The temperatures can reach upwards of 120 degrees. As mentioned by Oliver, it is also a nation with numerous human rights violations.
Despite decades of complaints about the questionable and unethical behaviors of Blatter and other FIFA officials, there didn’t seem much that anyone could or intended to do. Because of the massive popularity of football throughout most of the world, the organization has a great deal of influence. Getting on the wrong side of FIFA could have serious monetary consequences for countries where the sport is hugely popular. That is why the United States proved to be a perfect storm into which an arrogant FIFA casually sailed.
U.S. to announce corruption charges against senior officials at FIFA, world's soccer governing body, officials say.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) May 27, 2015
Whether or not it comes out on the other side completely intact is looking less likely with each passing day and each arrested high-ranking official.
Understand, it’s not as if “soccer” is completely unpopular in the United States. That’s a misconception often championed by football-loving foreigners. Indeed, for many Americans, soccer is a rather beloved childhood sport. What some foreign football fans don’t understand is that most American athletes with professional aspirations (read: seeking greater money-making opportunities) aim for the more popular and profitable American sports such as football, basketball, or baseball.
With numerous sports competing for hundreds of billions of dollars in the United States each year, FIFA has not been capable of gaining the kind of foothold here that it has in other countries. It’s not as though the organization hasn’t tried. With the historic amount of attention paid to the 2014 World Cup stateside, it seemed FIFA was finally starting to gain real traction and connect with a greater number of American consumers.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) May 28, 2015
At the same time, FIFA took U.S. disinterestedness in football for granted, which is why tainted money allegedly made its way through U.S. banks. Somehow a poor football culture convinced FIFA there would be no consequences for this sort of behavior. Top officials miscalculated to a disturbing degree.
However, this scandal puts FIFA and the corruption in the world of football in the sort of light that is a nightmare to an organization that continues to put on the facade of respectability. The open secret is being shouted rather than whispered: FIFA is corrupt, and we have the witnesses and documents to prove it.
If there is an upside to American fans of soccer, it’s that recent allegation suggest that the sport does have the potential to be huge in the United States. It actually could have been. Unfortunately, top. U.S. football officials were reportedly pocketing the money that could have been put towards heavy promotion and support of the sport. With these corrupt FIFA cronies out of the way, who knows what the future now holds for soccer in the United States. With the government digging into the underbelly of international association football, it presents a plausible opportunity to re-introduce the sport to Americans, purged of the backward officials that were holding it back.
— HuffPost UK (@HuffPostUK) May 28, 2015
The current corruption scandal may spell doom for FIFA as we know it today, but the other side of this situation could be a wonderful new beginning for soccer in the United States.
What do you think of the FIFA scandal? Do you think a poor football/soccer culture enabled the United States justice system to act or was going after FIFA inevitable? Please share your insight below!
[Image Credit: Jordan Arenas]