The irony America faces is it’s biggest contribution to international soccer doesn’t involve scoring goals.
When the inaugural article for this column was written it had been several hours after Sepp Blatter was elected to his fifth term as president of F.I.F.A. In the face of growing accusation of corruption from the federation and indictments delivered from attorney general Loretta Lynch and the U.S. Department of Justice. Which has caused 18 soccer executive to face corruption related charges, and investigation by Swiss authorities on the bidding process for the host selections for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar.
Blatter still had security in the confidence of 133 members in F.I.F.A’s congress on May 29, when they voted for him causing Jordanian Prince Ali Bin-al-Hussein to concede before a second round of voting could begin. After the election Blatter took a bizarre figurative victory lap by accepting the responsibility of the current problems in F.I.F.A in his acceptance speech.Then criticized the U.S.D.O.J. and English Media for creating the controversy as attempt to oust him as president, because they had “sour grapes” over losing their bids to host the World Cup.
With the election over and another term in front of him the president looked like he was in good standing to escape the wrath of the U.S. and continue to enjoy his life as the “Boss of Footbol.” The weekend went by and then Monday started and things changed for Blatter and F.I.F.A
The day started with letter released by the Press Association from the South African Football Association (S.A.F.A) to F.I.F.A. general secretary, Jerome Valcke. The letter stated details about a transfer of $10 million from F.I.F.A to a bank account linked to former C.O.N.C.A.C.A.F. president, Jack Warner in 2008. Owen Gibson of The Guardian reports the money was alleged a bribe for Warner and U.S. soccer diplomat,Chuck Blazer for the votes they cast for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.
In the U.S. a source told A.B.C. news that Blatter is under investigation by the F.B.I. as part of a probe connected to the indictments that were made the previous week. Hours later Blatter returned in front the world to announce his plans to resign as president and call for a special congress to elect his successor in the next six to nine months.
While Blatter will still be in power for the rest of 2015 and possibly the start of 2016 the story that has unfolded since last week’s column is stunning. One week from the day this column is written the most powerful man was ruling his sport with an iron-fist and avoided the storm of justice like a plague.
Three days later he’s forced to start preparing his move from his pedestal of power and possibly get ready to answer for the “questionable practices” his non-profit organization has engaged in over the years.
The ultimate irony is that this is all thanks to the United States. The one country that has been notorious about it’s disinterest in soccer.
The country that was so uninterested in the sport that the people use the real name of the sport for a full contact game where the hands are the primary weapons. A country where their professional league is considered the last stop for a worldwide legend before their career goes out to pasture.
The world has acknowledged America’s limited role in the global game. Now the world is facing a possible reality where they have to thank the U.S. for being the heroes that helped bring world-wide reform to their beloved game. The most mind boggling part of this equation is that this was all done without a single ball being kicked on a field.
While there are still a lot of issues to work through both in and out of a courthouse. If things go the way the U.S.D.O.J. hopes, the millennial generation can have their story of how America used its power to help make the world a better place.