Allstate Journal

Sepp Blatter’s FIFA finally starts to face accountability

Finally, FIFA has met its match. Sepp Blatter, meet Loretta Lynch and the U.S. Justice Department. This just might not turn out so well for Sepp and the soccer boys. We all have at least a passing knowledge of the story to this point. It goes something like this: Big leaders, big egos, big money, big corruption. Blatter and his sycophants have plundered the globe in the name of their beloved football for “at least two generations,” U.S. attorney general Lynch said in a news release earlier this morning.bayern_munich_win_fifa_club_world_cup_1387683945_540x540

The bribery and influence-peddling and power-grubbing have been the worst-kept secret in sports. It has been so bad that Swiss prosecutors are in the midst of a separate criminal case surrounding the nonsense of the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. For those who recall the Salt Lake City Olympic bribery scandal from the late 1990s, here’s a way to gauge today’s burgeoning scandal: FIFA is an Ivy League PhD program. Salt Lake City is a kindergarten class.

There are two ways to look at the timing of the indictments and the arrests of seven high-ranking FIFA officials while they were in the midst of FIFA meetings at a posh Zurich hotel ahead of the organization’s presidential election Friday. For Blatter, who plans to be re-elected to a fifth term as FIFA’s big cheese — the certainty of these FIFA elections would make Stalin proud — the timing couldn’t be worse. For the rest of us, the timing couldn’t be better, even if Blatter still wins, which he probably will, amazingly enough, because that’s what happens to the uber-powerful in corrupt international sports.

Nonetheless, there is the embarrassment of all of this being dropped on FIFA, and on him, at this moment. You’ve read the sentences in all the stories this morning: Blatter has not been indicted. He is not involved. He has no idea what has been going on for decades in his organization. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” The great Oz has spoken. A know-nothing strategy has worked for years for Blatter because all the national soccer federations and organizations and sponsors around the world are afraid of him. To them, he is soccer. He is the power-brokers’ power-broker. You don’t mess around with that.

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