Honest Accounting at FIFA

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Filed Under Latest News on May 26 

God bless the Justice Department for charging fourteen FIFA officials with corruption. That is, with nurturing “a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for the biggest sport in the world.” While baseball, for example, has certainly had it’s share of scandals over the years, they have tended to be fixed with rigorous and thorough responses on the part of the league itself or of the courts. Is baseball as clean as a pitcher’s mound the morning of the first game of the season? No, clearly not. But the capacity, and more importantly, the will to ensure a reasonable sense of order and justice prevails over that pastime so central to life in America. And in other professional sports, even if to a lesser extent, in professional boxing.

Apparently the Zurich-based organization has over $1 billion in cash on hand. A cash ratio that is a touch on the conservative side, given that FIFA has revenues of around $1 billion a year. If you believe their books. If they actually have books that would pass even a modest audit done by say your grandmother, who happens to be a retired bookkeeper. About 15% of that billion dollars is at stake in this indictment, and where those tens of millions of dollars came from and where they went, is something we may actually discover over the process of the FIFA Fourteen’s trial. Professional soccer is awash in corruption and has been for decades if not generations. And FIFA is part of the problem, not the solution. So far President Sepp Blatter has not been charged, but if the Swiss actually cooperate fully with the Justice Department, who knows where this will end?

And the problem is far more than a playing field that is not level. The playing field is soaked with bloody violence from hooligans – especially in South America where the English (Irish to be specific) problem has reached far and wide into the very structures of the clubs and Conmebol – to Asian gamblers cutting the stadium lights after half-time to guarantee a favorable score stays that way, to players throwing games, to corrupt referees everywhere, including Germany’s 2nd division. To vote-buying in FIFA and on and on. While media commentators have delighted in descending on American athletes who have – willingly or unwillingly – ingested banned substances, whether cough medication or steroids, corruption is so profound in soccer that there is a resigned acceptance of the fact in most of the world, including the media. Let us hope that the Justice Department brings some of the clarity and zeal they have brought to baseball to the seething, decadent world of football association football (that would be soccer). It is long past time for an honest accounting at FIFA.

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