Commentary

Why Disempowering Blatter Will Take a Global Effort

FIFA on Friday lost its credibility with the West after Sepp Blatter was reelected president of soccer’s world governing body just two days after U.S. authorities indicted nine officials from the organization as well as five sports marketing execs, charging them with involvement in kickback schemes totaling more than $150 million. 

Though the first round of voting, which required a two-thirds majority, bore no winner, challenger Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan conceded the second round to Blatter due to the 133-73 lead the Swiss generated after the first round (note: the second round was going to go to the majority winner).  

During a pair of acceptance speeches, Blatter made it very clear that he knows exactly where his bread is buttered, going out of his way in both to praise tiny Oceania, which he somewhat ironically referred to as his “Ocean 11”, suggesting that the series of island nations --  whose total population is less than 15 million -- deserves more respect, and perhaps, a guaranteed World Cup slot. The likes of Vanuatu and American Samoa are no doubt jumping for joy following his reelection. 

As Off The Post and others have mentioned before, championing the world’s “little guys” -- who have exactly the same number of votes (1) as everyone else in the 209 member-strong FIFA Congress -- is exactly how Blatter stays in power. 

And, as ESPN’s Gabriele Marcotti points out, he delivers, too -- and in a variety of ways, from six-figure salaries, to committee slots (which come with annual stipends), promises of more World Cup places to smaller confederations, and, finally, development grants. The latter, in particular, is where a lot of money tends to go missing.

But, like any good mafia boss or crooked politician, Blatter has a developed a system whereby he gets the world’s “little guys” to keep him in power because not only does he pay them all well enough, he also gives them the opportunity to make more through selling their votes and/or making grant money disappear.

Of course, (and again, like any good criminal boss), Blatter very likely has nothing (directly, anyway) to do with vote-rigging or money disappearing, but he oversees a system by which it pays for the “little guys” to keep it going, and by extension, keeps him in power.

The big question now is: how do you stop it? Well, the FBI has made a good first step in indicting the 14 people connected to kickback and bribery schemes. When corruption inside an organization is this deeply entrenched, law enforcement is the only way. But the long arm of American law enforcement can only reach so far.

Therefore, it will take a gigantic coordinated effort on the part of American, Swiss, and most likely, UK and EU authorities, as well as politicians and regulators to find the rest of the bad apples. However, this is a far bigger issue than just the FIFA Congress, involving red tape, regulation and financial safe havens around the world.

In other words, don’t expect instant results.

11 comments about "Why Disempowering Blatter Will Take a Global Effort".
  1. Daniel Luken, May 29, 2015 at 6:18 p.m.

    The fans could do it by asking / boycotting any companies that advertise with FIFA. Cut off the $$ and you take away the power. Of course that is easier said than done.

  2. Edgar Soudek, May 29, 2015 at 6:21 p.m.

    Good old Guiseppe Blatterini, Mafia(pardon, FIFA) Godfather Numero Uno...

  3. Richard T. Lynch, May 29, 2015 at 7:14 p.m.

    All of the "big" soccer nations should just leave FIFA and start their own organization and their own "World Cup". Who would miss all the little countries from Africa, Oceania, and other Asia regions? What could they do? What holds the big powers to FIFA? College football did it. The old AFL in football did it. Why not soccer? Only way around this guy's strangle hold on power.

  4. Kenneth Barr, May 29, 2015 at 7:46 p.m.

    How about major sponsors like Coca Cola, Anheuser Busch, Visa and MasterCard telling FIFA that unless the Garcia Report is released in its entirety by June 15, 2015 they will pull their sponsorship.

  5. David Hardt, May 29, 2015 at 7:55 p.m.

    Here here I am with Edgar Soudek time to move on How well will all the "little countries do if their kick backs are gone when the big boys of the soccer world do their own world cup. Which is a better final Germany vs Spain or Oceania vs North Korea? And who will the sponsors support?

  6. I w Nowozeniuk, May 30, 2015 at 2:18 p.m.

    Soccer is global and needs a global organization to direct its activities. It needs independent due diligence at its HQS and at every regional HQS.

  7. Molly Wilsbacher, May 30, 2015 at 5:38 p.m.

    If FIFA were a private company and even a department in the U.S. Government, the CEO's and Directors would be forced to resign under the scandals because they should have known what was going on under their watch. I don't know why I'm surprised that the head of such a corrupt organization remains, gets re-elected, and then has the audacity to claim that his re-election proves he had nothing to do with the corruption. Utterly unbelievable!

  8. Andrzej Kowalski, June 1, 2015 at 5:58 p.m.

    Why diferent countries federations clubs and players allow FIFA and continental federations to pocket almost all money from WC and other tournaments.And in this way presidents of those organisations have a lot of money to buy elections. FIFA and continental federations have almost no expenses so the money should go to countries federations clubs and players.

  9. Andrzej Kowalski, June 1, 2015 at 6:06 p.m.

    In US Soccer federation we have simmilar problem. US Soccer fed president Gulati was electid two times in a row in one men elections without contrcandidate.FBI should investigate this!

  10. Andrea Hana, June 2, 2015 at 2:01 a.m.

    Great. Another term with the "Sepp-tic Blatter (bladder)". :P

  11. Kent James, June 2, 2015 at 10:43 a.m.

    The sponsors should demand the release of the full report, and the resignation of Blatter. If that does not happen, the major countries should create their own WC (and invite anyone to join). The by laws of the organization should change the voting procedure so that while every member gets a vote, more important soccer countries get more votes. How many votes a country gets could be determined in a number of ways; I'd suggest using a combination of overall population (UN figures), registered players, registered professional teams, paid attendance at soccer matches, or other measures of soccer culture. So maybe the smallest countries get a vote for existing and being a member, while larger countries get a few additional votes for population size (up to 4?), and an additional set of votes for soccer culture (up to 6 more; something more than pure population is worth). Ultimately, populous soccer mad countries (Brazil) get something like 10x the votes of countries with small population and a weak attachment to soccer. Populous countries without much interest (yet) in soccer (India) would get maybe 4 or 5 votes, as would soccer mad (but small) countries (like the Netherlands) might get 7 or 8 votes. In other words, the power to influence soccer should have some basis in the real world.

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