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May 27, 2011 1:01 PM   Subscribe

The most powerful presidential position in the world is having its election soon, and the incumbent has just been brought up before an ethics committee for investigation. The USA's best attempt at a candidate was shut out and couldn't even be nominated. The person who is supposed to be representing the US region has been found guilty of corruption several times. Could this result in a historic revote for the 2022 World Cup location?

Qatar won the 2022 vote amidst. The charges were brought up by the leading opposition candidate for the presidency who is already under ethics investigation based on allegations from the only USA member of the executive committee (who happens to like to dress in costumes.)

Related: Could this finally be the path to instant replay in soccer?
posted by babar (28 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yeah, soccer is the greatest sport in the known universe huh?
posted by ReeMonster at 1:12 PM on May 27, 2011

Soccer has a president? And in what way is he most powerful?

Is there a president of baseball, too?
posted by fartknocker at 1:14 PM on May 27, 2011

C'mon people, this FPP is hilarious.
posted by subdee at 1:17 PM on May 27, 2011

Yeah, soccer is the greatest sport in the known universe huh?

uh, are you submitting the existence of corrupt officials in administration as proof that the sport of soccer is not? I mean, "what's the best sport in the world" is a pretty stupid argument and my vote is for hockey anyways, but how does this factor in at all?
posted by Hoopo at 1:22 PM on May 27, 2011

And in what way is he most powerful?

See: Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:24 PM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was really, really surprised that Chuck Blazer went ahead with this. Normally, corruption in FIFA invokes a shrug and a sigh. The Qatari cup award was so patently awful, that I suppose international outcry finally made it feasible to launch an investigation.

Blazer's going to catch all kinds of hell within CONCACAF if he and his can't produce some really damning evidence, and fast.
posted by The Giant Squid at 1:26 PM on May 27, 2011

I always thought when FIFA showed up William over the 2018 vote they were playing with old forces which they may not have understood.

Her Maj : That's not a knife powerful, shadowy cabal.
posted by fullerine at 1:34 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

But the Qataris are going to build all those beautiful stadiums!
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:40 PM on May 27, 2011

Mohamed bin Hammam is so corrupt that when a financial auditor steps close to him he suddenly falls to the floor and rolls around, clutching his leg
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:46 PM on May 27, 2011 [14 favorites]

Your favorite corrupt sports league sucks.
posted by Trurl at 1:50 PM on May 27, 2011

And in what way is he most powerful?

Well, he's powerful enough to protect the franchulate holders from sovereign interference, such as in Nigeria.

FIFA is spectacularly corrupt, and has been for some time. Andrew Jennings has exposed a number of their dodgy dealings over the years, with little by way of response from the press and public. In recent weeks, a full third of the committee that chose Qatar and Russia for the next 2 world cups have become subject to ethics investigations, with 4 of their number being accused (under parliamentary privilege) of demanding cash and honours bribes for their votes.

None of this seems to have gained any real media traction, but the prospect of a good old-fashioned mud-slinging contest between the presidential candidates seems to have done so. I remain to be convinced that there will be any real clean-up as a result, but one can but hope.
posted by Jakey at 1:51 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

1. A lot of people are speculating that Blazer did not have much choice in reporting the allegations since they were submitted to him in his official capacity. Failure to investigate and pass them on would certainly be a FIFA ethics violation, but more importantly, it might also have been a violation of US law.

2. The US didn't have a candidate. Grant Wahl was in it for publicity.

3. The post is a bit misleading in its presentation since this started with the "opposition candidate" being accused of offering cash bribes to the heads of Caribbean Football Associations in exchange for votes. It didn't start with the incumbent being brought up on ethics violations. That particular set were submitted by the "opposition candidate" trying to make his opponent look as bad as himself the week before the election.

4. They are all pretty much crooks, but if this whole thing rids us of Jack Warner, then it will be a net positive.

5. It will be interesting to see if FIFA tries to make the allegations against bin Hamman and Warner go away if Blatter is reelected and whether the media will let them get away with that.

6. A lot of people are remaining cynical and not thinking anything significant will come of this, but others are starting to hope it will be BIG.

7. See Bill Archer's blog on BogSoccer for more in depth discussion.
posted by eviltwin at 1:55 PM on May 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Soccer has a president? And in what way is he most powerful?

In 2010, FIFA established "World Cup Courts" throughout South Africa, which were empowered to pass speedy judgement against people accused of contravening the law at or around the event. This included sentencing two men to 15 years in jail for robbery of soccer journalists, and a well-publicized case in which some Dutch women were arrested and charged with "ambush marketing" for wearing orange dresses at a match which were sponsored by Bavaria Beer, a competitor of the official World Cup beer Heineken. If convicted, they would have faced 6 months in jail.

They were able to do this because South Africa, under FIFA pressure, passed the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Special Measures Act in 2006, upon receiving the award of the World Cup bid. This act allowed FIFA to criminalize "unauthorized commercial activity in an exclusion zone", among many, many other things, and empowered FIFA to construct their own courts for the purpose of enforcing those provisions.

FIFA requests the same or similar legal consideration from any nation that submits a bid to host the World Cup, and makes it clear that their analysis of the "legal risk" of a nation's hosting is a major consideration in receiving the award. FIFA demands that the national federations of their member nations be completely independent of governmental interference, and punishes any attempt to investigate corruption in a football federation by banishing the nation from the worldwide football community until interference stops. Investigations may only be carried out by FIFA internally, and their decisions are final.

I would argue that the ability to pass your own laws in nations around the world, establish your own independent courts, and guarantee your employees freedom from legal prosecution all contribute to a sense of serious power and influence.
posted by Errant at 2:17 PM on May 27, 2011 [8 favorites]

You also have a decisive voice in how FIFA's billions of dollars will be distributed, as well in how the world's most popular sport is played down to its lowest organized level, since FIFA's Laws of the Game are the rules by which soccer is played from the World Cup final to your local U-5 league.
posted by stargell at 2:25 PM on May 27, 2011

Yeah, the world cup alone moves a lot of money. And there's also each confederation's cup (Euro, Copa América, Asian Cup, ...) etc, etc.
posted by palbo at 2:30 PM on May 27, 2011

Grant Wahl was in it for publicity.

Wahl was in it primarily to publicize how corrupt and out of touch FIFA's leadership is.
posted by stargell at 2:33 PM on May 27, 2011

Ahhh, sorry for the incomplete sentence, I lost a link.

There was a little snark in the way I described Grant Wahl, but I think his article was actually pretty informative about what a sketchy process this is and how amazingly old-boys-network FIFA is. For an organization that does have so much power in the world (the most powerful line is really only a half-joke, as Errant did a good job of explaining) it seems really sad to me that they primarily seem to be interested in continuing to funnel money to the hands of the current elites.

Eviltwin, thanks for the additional context. I didn't think bin Hamman's charges were particularly noteworthy, but I think when this escalated to actually include Blatter it did become a lot more interesting. I doubt it will go anywhere, and even in the best-case situation where Blatter is forced out, I see no reason why the next president would be any less corrupt. The structure needs to be changed, not the individuals involved.

Here is a link to Bill Archer's blog. He does have some good summaries of what people think is really going on here. Sorry I missed that for the post.

And I think everyone can agree, if this is the end of Jack Warner's reign in CONCACAF, this will have been a good thing. At least until we see that he is replaced by someone who is actually more effective (or at least discreet?) in their corruption!
posted by babar at 3:03 PM on May 27, 2011

Is there a president of baseball, too?

No, there's a commissioner of baseball, and he rules with an iron fist, sometimes even going against the requests of team owners and players about whether things like replays can be allowed in baseball.
posted by hippybear at 3:37 PM on May 27, 2011

The commissioner of baseball also has a blimp where he watches for cheaters from behind the sights of his trusty, silver rifle.

Now THAT is a chief executive I can stand behind.
posted by m@f at 3:58 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for that, Errant. The FIFA allegations have been pretty prominent here in England, but then we lost out. The Guardian had a "FIFA watch" type column during the World Cup which highlighted things like Warner and his dodgy dealings, and FIFA's heavy-handedness in South Africa.

Funny how all the papers shouted at and blamed teh beeb, and now they are all on it.
posted by marienbad at 4:53 PM on May 27, 2011

I thought it was politically incorrect to call it "soccer" instead of "football".
posted by republican at 4:54 PM on May 27, 2011

Soccer is both the original British name for the sport (an abbreviation for Association Football), and more accurate than "football" which refers to many sports.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:48 PM on May 27, 2011

The phrase "oh, my" leaps to mind.
posted by eriko at 6:08 PM on May 27, 2011

"Is there a president of baseball, too?"

Uh yeah? Why do you think everyone calls him "Mister" Met?
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 8:29 PM on May 27, 2011

Uh yeah? Why do you think everyone calls him "Mister" Met?

the president of baseball is the Phillie Phanatic.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:09 PM on May 27, 2011

posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:02 AM on May 28, 2011

The baseball commish is luckily far more stupid than he is corrupt, and I'm surprised that the citizens of Milwaukee haven't risen up against him in mobs yet.

But wow, just as a soap opera, this FIFA shit is totally entertaining. Sounds like they're worse than the Olympics, who are also notably corrupt.
posted by klangklangston at 11:23 AM on May 28, 2011

The Guardian live blog of the election is probably the best gallows humor interpretation of this farce.

10.16am: Blatter finishes his latest address by telling Congress: ""Football belongs to everyone and we are in charge. I have found my voice again. If you agree with me, say it!" Cue predictable, lingering, sycophantic applause.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:18 PM on June 1, 2011

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