I wanted to write about FIFA last spring, when its officials and others were indicted last May. Like most observers, I knew that bigger stories would come, and come they did. FIFA president Joeseph (Sepp) Blatter resigned days later, and three weeks ago, Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini, a former soccer great and Blatter’s protégé, were banned for eight years by an independent ethics committee (The New York Times).
Yesterday, the world was abuzz with anticipation for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015 awards (and with tributes to David Bowie). This summer, the world will be abuzz with excitement for the Euro 2016 tournament in France. Despite international prosecution and public scrutiny, the 2018 World Cup will probably be in Russia as planned, and the 2022 World Cup will probably be in Qatar as planned, in January no less.
Political satire might be inconsequential in the Big Picture, but it can provide insight to wide audience.
Public Figures Who Are Soccer Fans Tell It Like It Is
John Oliver, 2014
John Oliver, 2015
Jimmy Conrad, 2015
Barring some unexpected arbitration ruling, Blatter is gone for good. I don’t think that his ban solves anything, though. FIFA doesn’t operate in just one country or continent, and pro soccer is too popular and too lucrative for the organization to face real pressure to reform. I can’t imagine Lionel Messi boycotting a World Cup or Coca-Cola withdrawing its sponsorship. I’m still going to drink Coke products, wear Adidas gear, and use Visa cards. And play FIFA 16.
Sweeping reform is probably unrealistic but I’d like to see FIFA make certain changes.
- Publish findings of independent ethics committees.
- Forgo non-profit, tax-exempt status like the NFL has done in April.
- Ban Sepp Blatter for life from FIFA leadership positions.