”Crisis? What crisis?“
Those are the words of FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, in response to a provocative question by an English journalist at a recent press conference.
One man’s business-as-usual is another man’s crisis. FIFA is accused of thriving on bribery and corruption by people that do not understand how the world of sport politics works. Bribery is merely a synonym for subventions used to win votes. It is not unlike lobbying or pork in US politics. Many cannot understand why they are criticized for practices similar to those of the world’s greatest democracy.
Many sport functionaries are wealthy men (of course, some acquired that wealth through sport), so those alleged “envelopes of cash” do not entice them to act against their own desires. But, some are from countries where corruption is the accepted norm. No amount of sniping by the English press will daunt them from doing what they always do. I have dealt with such men.
As a signal of willingness to change, the president announced that future World Cup venues will be chosen by all members and not just the executive committee. To the less-informed, this might indicate an elimination of the chance to corrupt the vote. It is the same system used by the IOC, who regularly faces similar criticisms. I recall being in a room with IOC members just prior to the secret vote on a venue for the lucrative Olympic Games. Envelopes of cash were being offered to susceptible members (the likes of Princess Anne would never be approached with such an inducement) to entice them to make up his or her mind or to change his or her vote. There are plenty of stories about certain members promising all candidate cities to vote for them in return for an attractive inducement, because the secret vote protected them from having their dishonesty discovered. With FIFA’s recent change, bidding cities for the World Cup competition will have to stock up on envelopes as part of the standard bidding package...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.