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.