Soccer fans this weekend saw the best of the beautiful game pushed aside by the worst. As Barcelona were dismantling Manchester United with passing and play that was textbook in perfection, the drip-drip-drip of allegations coming out of FIFA’s headquarters in Switzerland was deafening. Mohamed bin Hamman withdrew from the FIFA president’s race under the dark cloud of suspicion that he had tried to bribe voters in his election campaign. Then pictures were released allegedly showing (I kid you not) a case with $40,000 in cash that associates of CONCACAF delegate Jack Warner and bin Hamman delivered to a Caribbean delegate to buy their vote in the election.
Then the hits kept coming. FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke had to deny a report that he wrote an email to Warner saying that bin Hammam thought “you can buy FIFA as they bought the WC” (WC standing for World Cup). bin Hammam is the head of the Qatar delegation, and Valcke had to issue a statement saying that, while he did write the email, he did not mean to imply the 2022 World Cup had been bought; Qatar issued a similar statement. Meanwhile, current FIFA president Sepp Blatter (who has his own ethics charges against him) gave a bizarre press conference claiming that none of these reports constituted a crisis and that tomorrow’s election for FIFA president (where he is the only candidate) should continue.
Got that? Basically, it looks like FIFA corruption (which has always been guessed at) is coming to light at a bad time; upwards of 10 of the 32 members of the sport’s governing body are under investigation for various corruption charges. The British English and Scottish FAs have publicly called for tomorrow’s vote for FIFA president to be delayed, and the British English FA has said it will abstain from voting due to the current ethics situation. [note – apologies to English and British friends for misidentifying FA. Mistakes were made]
The United States, which finished second to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, should feel even more aggrieved than the English that their bid was possibly undermined by corruption, probably even by their own federation’s representative. So how should USSF and Sunil Gulati respond to the controversy? Should they follow the English, call for a delay in the election, and refuse to vote unless the current situation is satisfactorily resolved?
Here are my pros and cons, and please vote in the poll below: