Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Time to Cleanse Corrupt FIFA

“We’re struck by just how long this went on for and how it touched nearly every part of what FIFA did,...It just seemed to permeate every element of the federation and was just their way of doing business. It seems like this corruption was institutionalized.”

-- Law enforcement official, New York Times


New Attorney General Loretta Lynch is having a good start - she is taking on 'one of the most powerful but equally corrupt Sports Organizations' in the world - FIFA. FIFA before Blatter and even now has been an utterly corrupt organization is a common knowledge. Bosses like Blatter play 'racial politics' to rouse African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Asian soccer federations whenever European Federation and USA attempt to bring issues of corrupt practices. But in awarding FIFA cup to Qatar and Russia; FIFA transgressed all inhibitions about corrupt practices. This must stop.

It may sound strange, but what is needed is President Barack Obama stands firmly, publically, behind his Attorney General in her pursuit of FIFA corruption case. President Obama needs to bring all the might of his office behind this investigation and expose the sordid and ugly world of global soccer. He needs to give an example of how USA cleaned corruption in Baseball and exhort the global community to stand up to the task of cleansing the dirt of FIFA corruption. It is he, the first black President of USA, who is in the best position to call the bluff of rascals of the world like FIFA chief Blatter who want to hide behind 'charges of racism' in covering his own greed and corrupt ways.

If at all 'politics is to be for good'; now is the occasion for President Obama. By lending force of his administration, he will demonstrate to Americans at large that he cares about cleansing the mess far apart from America's shores. Latino community in USA is the natural supporter of global soccer, they would be delighted to see their commander-in-chief not shying away in taking on all powerful 'pope of football'. As many have observed, 1 in 6 Americans is foreign born; that is a fertile ground for fans who would care about the transparency in global sport like soccer. No better way than to connect and nurture existing bonds with this population apart from showing 'where you stand' in the business of global soccer.

It may seem that the corrupt Blatter is all but inevitable to become FIFA boss in coming elections. But if President Obama were to pick up this fight, he might find willing partners in unexpected quarters. How in the world Chinese Boss Xi Jinping would oppose fighting 'corruption' when he himself is on a crusade against corruption in his home? How can Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff dare to go against the fight of 'corruption' when her second term is completely bogged down by the engulfing scandale of Petrobras? (In spite of 7-1 humiliating loss to Germany in 2014 FIFA World Cup at home; where Brazil goes, the world Soccer goes there.) Sure, Czar Putin would not like all this; but then it is all the more reason to pick up this fight which can drive a wedge between Russia and China.

I have no idea whether Obama White House will show the 'dexterity' in using a perfect occasion delivered by her Attorney General to progress further the fight against global corruption. But the case for doing so is strong. If Obama Administration undertakes that, it will be a service to America, and more importantly, to a sport which has unique global following.

Update - It is true that vast majority of FIFA members want embattled chief Blatter to continue. No surprise here since many of those countries are used to corrupt ways with minimal to non-existent tradition of democracy or internal transparency. But what big countries of Europe, USA, Brazil and China, Japan, South Korea can do is exert the power of 'market' and 'money'. It is these big countries and their markets which sustain huge flow of money into FIFA. You take away that, FIFA coffers become empty and then it does not matter how many Blatters are occupying FIFA executive committee's at that point. As English Soccer Player Gary Lineker says, UEFA and other countries opposed to Blatter should walk away from FIFA. That will force rest of FIFA members to come to senses and start participating the cleansing process. FIFA cannot be UN Human Rights Commission where corrupt and dictators would lecture USA and successful Democracies about Human Rights. Even there USA threatened to walk way. Walking away from FIFA will not be hard at all. A federation and Cup of entire European countries, Brazil, China, Japan, USA, Canada, Australia and many other countries would not be a bad cup at all.

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