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The FIFA Chronicles

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Nov 19, 2014

The FIFA Chronicles

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There has always been speculation that there is funny business going on with FIFA. Back handed deals, paying people off for votes, brown bags filled with cash. Questions about this sort of thing ain’t nothing new. But what is going on right now is getting more and more crazy all the time. And yet somehow, it doesn’t seem to be a major story yet. Or I should say, there are more stories surfacing, but we need some major blow the roof off of this scandal type of story. In the meantime, let’s take a look at a few of the major things going on, right now, surrounding FIFA.

Have you read the story of Chuck Blazer basically turning state’s evidence against FIFA. That’s right. Chuck Blazer. The same Chuck Blazer that was a member of the FIFA Executive Member and general secretary of CONCACAF. You couldn’t make up something like this, yet is seems to be going down. Like for real. Check out this NY Daily News story on the Chuck Blazer becoming an informant for the FBI and IRS. Yes, you read that last line correct. This is one of the wildest stories I have read in a while. It’s a must read.

How about the CNN story that has the title “FBI Moves Ahead With FIFA Corruption Probe.” Yep. The FBI is investigating FIFA. This is happening as we speak.

FIFA is being investigated by the FBI and the IRS. And that’s just here in the US. I’m sure there are some forensic accountants hard at work somewhere with these federal agencies trying to follow the money. And if they do. Oh man, things could get super interesting. Real quick.

Oh yeah, how about all of the things going down with Michael Garcia and judge Hans-Joachim Eckert. Michael Garcia was brought into investigate the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Apparently he has an exemplary record as an investigator so he was brought into look into how the bidding and awarding process went. He spends a considerable amount of time looking into these matters (like two years). He submits a 430 page report on his findings, but yet FIFA won’t release these findings. Apparently if this report gets leaked, Garcia gets fired by FIFA for ethics violations. Yet, he was brought into investigate FIFA on ethics violations. Hmmmmm….

Fox Sports lays out some of what is going on in this story.

The FA Chief in England, Greg Dyke, has sent a letter to 26 members of the FIFA Executive Committee demanding urgent action be taken on the ethics report. Dyke says in his letter:

‘I am writing to each member of the FIFA ExCo to urge you to insist on the publication of Mr Garcia’s full report as a matter of some urgency.

‘As you probably know the reputation of FIFA was already low in England and much of Europe before the events of last week. The failure to publish Mr Garcia’s report and his statement that the summary report contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations” has resulted in further decline in public confidence of FIFA. 

While all of this is going on, former FA Chief David Bernstein is urging European nations to boycott the 2018 World Cup. You can read more about this over at the Daily Mail.

Two whistle blowers from Michael Garcia’s report have been outed and they have submitted complaints about this. The Guardian has that story.

The Guardian is also reporting that the president of the German football league that UEFA’s 54 members could ultimately quit FIFA over what is going on. What, what? All of UEFA’s members might quite FIFA? How is this not a way bigger story than what we are seeing? This might be some posturing by certain people just to see the full report. But damn, this is serious stuff.

In a pretty interesting BBC story, there is this:

Why, for example, was the English 2018 bid criticised when it was so obviously more open and transparent about what it did than the “highly uncooperative” Russians, for instance, whose computers were destroyed along with any potential email chains?

How can England be admonished for their $35,000 sponsorship of a Caribbean Football Union gala dinner when Qatar got away with a $1.8m sponsorship of the CAF Congress in Angola shortly before the 2010 vote?

Another Guardian story talks about how an “Ethics war on FIFA is about as futile as ‘war on terror’.” About how no matter what stories are published, or investigations happen, FIFA will go on unscathed and without any changes made. I particularly like this from the piece:

In fact, I can’t help feeling that in the event of a global nuclear apocalypse, the only manmade structure left standing would be Fifa’s Zurich headquarters. I’m not sure even one pane of its exoskeleton would be shattered. That distinctive architectural shell isn’t glass – it’s a deflector shield somehow capable of repelling all past and future flak. As Earth’s few remaining survivors prepared to withdraw into its catacombs to distil drinking water from their own urine, Sepp Blatter would simply blow the fallout ash off his $12,000 attache case and get on with his day. Maybe he’d mull the unveiling of a new corporate motto, and charge some aide with coming up with the Latin for “we so CAN go on like this”.

Perhaps Fifa is just becoming one of those rogue states we either can’t or daren’t do anything about. The more eye-popping the charges against world football’s governing body, the more sensationally impervious to them it seems, with even those of us who write bi-monthly about them beginning to lose track of who the hell would technically have jurisdiction over its activities. The Hague? The Pentaverate?

Honestly, this is just a tiny sliver of stories that are out there about what is going on with FIFA.

I have a couple questions, well a lot actually, but I’ll lay just a couple out for now.

1. When is someone going to do some super expose on FIFA. Like get inside. Infiltrate them and all that. Ever seen that show Outlaw Bikers on National Geographic Channel? The ATF sent in an undercover agent to a seriously dangerous biker gang for years. This cat risked his life to infiltrate the gang. What about Joseph D. Pistone, aka Donnie Brasco. This dude was an FBI agent that spent six years undercover with the mafia. THE MAFIA. Someone needs to get on this. Maybe it’s already happening. He might not have been a mole, but this story about Chuck Blazer turning states evidence might be the most interesting story I have read about in a long time.

2. Which leads me to point number two. Who is making this movie? I want to. Shady meetings in hotels around the world. Bags filled with cash. Super expensive apartments for his cats (like kitty cats). Private jets. You can’t make this up. And it’s unfolding right now.  If this wasn’t happening around my favorite sport, I would think this is the greatest caper of all time.

3. Does all of this even matter? Will the full report be made available? Will there be reform at FIFA? Do people even care enough to demand that changes need to happen?

I don’t know. But what is happening is pretty fascinating to me. This all certainly makes for a good story, but a terrible narrative for the sport.

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