The United States is a country that stands for freedom, with a hands-off, free market economy. So much so, in fact, that many a rich person has built their fortune using the rather unimposing economic principles that govern our system. It is also a playground for the robber baron, a place where the con artist can try to pull the wool over eyes long enough to amass his haul, with the hope that he can escape to safe sanctuary before the wolves knock at the door.
Much reform has taken place over the years. The US government, through its various agencies, have tried to tighten up the regulations to prevent things like the Pyramid/Ponzi schemes, insider trading, accounting fraud, and many other types of underhanded chicanery and corruption.
This is what is making the current FIFA scandal so bitter to many Americans.
Whether US Soccer Federation Dan Flynn has knowledge about the corruption that was rife within CONCACAF on American soil or not, his body language during last week’s US Senate panel hearing as well as his inability to answer questions openly, and conferring with his legal representative was not a good look for the US Soccer Federation.
Flynn’s answers were the typical “cover your tail” fare, claiming ignorance to Chuck Blazer’s lifestyle of excess and CONCACAF’s (and ultimately FIFA’s) deceitful ways.
We do live in a country that lives by the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” so perhaps Dan Flynn is right.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate a bit.
For instance, US Soccer (and specifically MLS) operates outside of typical FIFA standards for a soccer pyramid. Occasionally Sepp Blatter will remark openly about these issues:
a) the Spring-Fall vs. Fall-Spring calendar;
b) lack of an open pyramid with promotion & relegation;
c) the 20 team limit for a top division (current MLS expansion plans will breach).
One could argue there is an implicit allowance afforded to US Soccer to operate professional leagues with these variances, all for the low price of conformity.
Or maybe Blatter kept Sunil Gulati & co. hanging on by a thread, dangling that ever elusive “next World Cup” carrot for them to chase.
Or maybe not. Maybe US Soccer is so caught up in all of the day-to-day busy work that they never stopped to wonder why Blazer’s cat had his own posh apartment in Manhattan. If we don’t ask, you don’t have to tell, Chuck. All that money just fell out of the sky into your lap, right?
That shouldn’t be acceptable in any organization especially one that bears the name of the country that has gone to many lengths to set standards for ethics and reform in the business world. Does the United States get it right every time? Of course not. It is still a system that empowers the rich to become richer and oftentimes does wrothe poor to remain that way.
But when the actions turn from mere greed to actual crime, the US usually gets it right. In the case of FIFA, CONCACAF, and the miraculously appearing bags of money, USSF appears to have turned a blind eye. Perhaps it’s time to hold them accountable.