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FIFA Shenanigans (Again)


It appears that Sepp Blatter’s cunning ploy succeeded.  Mohamed Bin Hammam has pulled out of the race to serve as FIFA President, leaving the field about as competitive as a number of US House seats (though Blatter himself is now also under investigation for corruption).  Refreshingly he didn’t pull out to spend more time with his family, but rather to prevent the sullying of the FIFA name.

However, in the wake of Chuck Blazer’s apparently well evidenced and documented allegations last week, FIFA still have some ‘splaining to do.  Tory MP Damien Collins has launched the charmingly named “International Partnership for the Reform of FIFA“.  As its blog suggests, this is an embryonic organization.  It’s not clear to me just what leverage such a body, or the politicians from among Germany, Australia, and the United States that constitute it, can have to encourage or force reform of FIFA.  The most effective play that they can make is trying to convince member associations to leave FIFA and set up a new governing body.  This is a long shot at best, though Collins has not rejected such a move.  The mere threat of withdrawal may convince FIFA to reform from within in order to save its role in the sport, especially if one of the regional associations (e.g. UEFA) goes along.

With Bin Hammam out of the way leaving the election uncontested, I doubt there will be any substantive reform from within; indeed I fully expect Qatar 2022 to go ahead as insanely planned.  Likewise, any movement for reform brought on exogenous to FIFA lacks the leverage necessary to effect change from without.

I hope I’m wrong, but optimism eludes me.

In other soccer news, there was a small match in London yesterday, where Barcelona owned Manchester United.  I didn’t shed a tear, but then I’d root for the New York Yankees against Man U.

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  • blowback

    So the Barca plot to undermine Giggs’ confidence worked then.

  • firefall

    Wait til the Yankees buy Man U, then we can achieve a perfect symphony of hate :)

  • wengler

    Sepp just got cleared of charges in the case.

    Another four years for the squeaky clean Blatter.

  • skidmarx

    The most effective play that they can make is trying to convince member associations to leave FIFA and set up a new governing body. This is a long shot at best,
    As DiNozzo said to McGee, “You sleeping with Penelope Cruz would be a long shot”. Not going to happen.

    Incidentally, bin Hammam wan’t technically involved in the 2022 bid,so using his indisposition as a pretext to rip hosting duties from Qatar’s grasp was always a bit unlikely.

    Blatter is in the clear, though I did see a BBC Panorama investigation (unfortunately not available in your jurisdiction or I’d link) which I think is where I saw an interview with a Swiss law-maker who suggested FIFA has a few months to clean up its act or look for another national base.
    The inital reason given for Blatter’s No Further Action seems to be that just being complicit in corruption isn’t enough to sully a gentleman’s reputation.

  • howard

    too bad your hatred of man u was more important than noting just what a fantastic team barcelona is.

    speaking as a man u fan, i have nothing but admiration for the way barcelona played yesterday: it’s easy to see why people with more knowledge than me think they are the greatest club team of all time….

    • Walt

      Hatred is the essence of sports. If I just wanted to enjoy an athletic display, I’d go to the ballet.

      • Henry Holland

        Speaking as both a sports fan and a ballet fan, I can say with a lot of confidence that you’re an idiot. Dreary tribalism is the bane of sports, the reason a man is lying in a coma in San Francisco after getting savagely beaten by two Dodgers fans.

        I watch sports because watching Lionel Messi play like the defense isn’t even there is a joy; seeing a sweet swing by the Angels Mark Trumbo result in a home run is a joy; seeing Roberto Luongo throw his body all over the goal mouth to stop pucks is a joy.

        • howard

          henry, i’m slightly more moderate than you: i can accept “hatred” of the other team as long as it’s the kind of “hatred” that has quote marks around it.

          what i had trouble accepting here was our host so “hating” man u that he didn’t even mention the brilliance of barcelona; fifa is, of course, an awful organization but it’s the game on the field that matters.

          • Henry Holland

            I wasn’t replying to you of course, Howard, which is why I didn’t hit the reply under your name but Waaaaaaaaaalllllllttttttt! Waaaaaaallllllltttttttt!’s post.

            Sorry, got all LOST nostalgic there.

            I get sports “hate” –as Angels fan, I’m not too fond of the Dodgers to put it politely– but I refuse to let it become a tribal thing. I can handle the Dodgers as a franchise imploding, but I take no pleasure in the fans having to endure a bad owner (see: the Gene Autry years in Anaheim).

            • howard

              henry, cause i’m still sitting here, yes, i realized that you were speaking to walt, i just wanted to weigh in, in that i more agreed with you than walt but i didn’t agree completely with you.

              to conclude my (implicit) point: sports “hate” is ok as long as it doesn’t blind you to the reality on the field.

              yesterday’s reality was that a truly great team played a truly great match: frankly, that united only lost 3-1 speaks quite well for the red devils considering that it’s almost unimaginable that barcelona could play any better than they did. failing to note that just in order to take pleasure in man u losing was not our host’s greatest moment….

              • Henry Holland

                The scary thing about Barcelona FC is that *if* Messi stays healthy and they keep the core of the team together, they could easily win 3 or 4 Champions League’s in a row.

                At least United has 19 English top-flight titles to Liverpool’s 18, an a die-hard Everton supporter, I approve.

              • howard

                henry, not that i don’t admire barcelona more than mere words can express, but for the sake of competitiveness, thank goodness that xavi is 31 (iniesta is only 27 and of course messi is 23, so you could easily be right). of course if xavi ages as well as ryan giggs did, and why should we doubt it, it won’t make much difference, but at least he’s aging).

        • Walt

          That’s right, there’s a continuum between sports rivalries and every act of violence committed by sports fans. You are the Andrea Dworkin “all intercourse is rape” of sports fans.

          And since the elegance of sports is right around the level of the latest Beyonce video, I suggest you save some money by turning in your ballet season tickets and spending the time on YouTube.

          I’m sorry you have to share sports fandom with so many people who lack your delicate sensibilities. Sports is popular because it’s competitive. Maybe you’d be just as happy if they didn’t keep score so that you could admire the coordination of Barca unsullied by such factors as “wanting one team to win” or “wanting one team to lose”, but you’re the only one.

          • Dave Brockington

            I would invite howard, and others, to revisit my post. I did not use the word “hate” because I know how to write, and as I don’t “hate” Manchester United, using that word failed to occur to me. Sports is not worth that level of emotional investment. I don’t like them, sure, but I fail to see the crime committed by not liking Man U or the Yankees. Hell, I don’t even “hate” Rangers, and I’m a Celtic supporter. In Europe, I pull for Rangers to progress (ideally all the way to, and losing, the final) as it increases Scotland’s UEFA coefficient.

            Furthermore, again reviewing this post, it would appear the main subject was FIFA and corruption — discussing the Champions League final was a throwaway line, and my lack of bestowing plaudits on Barca (which everyone else on the planet is already doing anyway) says nothing about my admiration (or lack thereof) for their level of play.

            • howard

              dave, first things first: i know this was about fifa, and you’re right, it’s a corrupt organization run by corrupt people, and had you only written about fifa, i wouldn’t have had anything to say.

              but you did choose to stroll over to the champion’s league final, and therefore, second things second: at this late date, i have to say that it’s not possible for a co-host of this site to pretend that saying you’d root for the yanks over man u isn’t saying “i hate man u.” yankee hate (and jeter hate in particular!) is a core value of this site.

              and as i thought i was clear, i’ve got nothing against “hate” as such, but i do have something against allowing your man u hate to obscure the greatness of barcelona: if you had enough time and energy to write a throwaway, you had enough time and energy to point out barcelona’s greatness. after all, everyone on the planet who follows soccer is already hip to fifa’s shenanigans too, and yet you found a way to post something on the subject.

    • Anonymous

      You root for the Yankees and United?

      • howard

        anonymous, this was thoroughly aired several years ago, and i won’t bore you with chapter and verse, but yes, i root for the yanks, man u, the knicks, and the football giants, so you can see it’s not all super-wealthy win-all-the-time clubs (in fact, since i was born in new york, it’s my legitimate right and obligation to root for the yanks, knicks, and giants, and i’m old and gray enough to have spent my adolescence rooting for the horace clarke-dooley womack-ray “buddy” barker editions of the bombers; indeed, i still have my “ray ‘buddy’ barket” bat from the first bat day at yankee stadium, in 1965).

        as for man u; my family lived in london in the early-mid ’70s, and while our local team was queens park (who are returning to the premier league next year!), there was still a lot of residual affection for man u because of george best and the ’68 win over benfica, so i had affection for them as well.

        and then, when in the early ’90s it became possible to watch english soccer on cable tv, there were the young beckham, scholes, giggs, and neville along with the great cantona, and it became very easy to become their fan….

  • xpara

    FIFA is a lost cause for anything but producing a rule book. Almost as rottden as the IOC. But I want some confirmation of what I saw on the lone MU goal.
    I’ll admit to being not only a former goal tender, which probably prejudices me, but also a former state level (Florida) referee for a decade or more, which helped me get over my sympathies for the goalie.
    Having said that, did no one else notice that not one but two MU players were offside when the one on the (field) right attempted to take a pass into the area which ended up eventually being played back to Rooney for what then became an excellent goal.
    The linesman was there but his view was perhaps inadvertently blocked by an MU winger (or at least a player in a white jersey).
    Missing an offside that leads to a goal is bad enough, but it will happen. What galls me is that no one on the Faux Sports announcing staff even hinted at what the TV (I DVR’d it and replayed it a couple of times in slomo) showed to be an obvious offside. Did anyone in the sports press remark on this? Or was I hallucinating, something that the occasional First Division player would on occasion hint at in my reffing days.

    • skidmarx

      You are not alone:
      One small thing, though: Giggs was half a yard offside as Rooney played the ball forward to him. There will no doubt be more on this should United win.

    • skidmarx

      I’ve just watched a replay, and there’s no daylight between Giggs and the defender when the ball is kicked.
      What was funny on the ITV commentary was Andy Townsend(quite an intelligent ex-player) saying 60 seconds before:”You can’t just expect to hit back in five minutes, you have to weather the storm.”

      • xpara

        We’ll, it looked like daylight to me, and still does on further review. As Rooney plays the ball forward (when the ball is kicked), Giggs appears to be at least a half-stride towards the goal away from the defender. But in any event, daylight is not controlling. All you need is to be past even with the last defender which Giggs was. In addition, there was a second MU player offside about 10 or 15 yards further into the field (closer to the camera). He had a defender with him and was running forward and thus was clearly interfering with play.

  • I have to take exception to the use of “owned” here. The game was much closer than the score indicated. Barca is a fabulously blessed team when it comes to possession and passing (and having Messi makes them pretty deadly on goal as well), but I think United acquitted themselves well.

    Messi’s goal was a classic. How he scores from there with four defenders around him is something people will study the way they study Pele’s goal in the 58 World Cup. You tip your hat and pray they don’t run the score up. Similarly with Rodriguez’s goal, Xavi Hernandez’s pass was pretty unbelievable.

    Still, United had their opportunities, and I lay the blame for their loss at Feguson’s feet. How you keep Berbatov off the squad completely is beyond me. How you keep Nani off the starting eleven is bewildering. He put his team in a defensive shell and it was just a matter of time before they’d lose.

    • howard

      actor212, i don’t think the lineup would have made the slightest difference: 4-5-1 with fletcher, 4-4-2 with berbatov, 4-4-1-1 with nani, or any combination thereof (i personally favored a 4-5-1 with fletcher coming in).

      barcelona is just an amazing team.

      but to get down to brass tacks: nani had a great first 2/3 of the season, but really, he hasn’t been nearly as good the last 2+ months. meanwhile, the very best performances of the team this year – the 3 matches against chelsea – all featured the same lineup we saw yesterday.

      while valencia and hernandez had especially poor games yesterday, i really don’t think that nani/berbatov in their places would have changed the outcome.

      the key to the game in my estimation was not the brilliance of messi – that’s a given – it was the quality of barcelona’s defense. from the time of the united goal until very late in the match, barcelona prevented man u from even generating a decent chance. a great team came ready to play its best yesterday: all the rest of us can do is admire their quality and hope to score an early goal next time….

  • Mrs Tilton


    too bad your hatred of man u was more important than noting just what a fantastic team barcelona is.

    Well, given that I both hate* United and support Barça, for me it was wonderfulness all round. What was wonderful was mostly Barça winning, of course — BLAUGRANA AL VENT, UN CRIT VALENT! — but Rooney’s bewilderment, rage and frustration were wonderful sweeteners.


    nah, “owned” is exactly right. Yes, you’re correct: in relative terms, United acquitted themselves well enough. Nothing to be ashamed of — not for them the 5:0 vivisection that FCB performed on Franco’s Team last November. Nevertheless, United — by any objective standard one of the strongest club sides in the world — were visibly, and hopelessly, outclassed.

    * OK, OK, I don’t hate them, I merely “hate” them. As it happens I have cousins from Manchester who, being real Mancunians, naturally support City (and have always done, long before City found themselves a sheikh). You want hatred of ManU without the inverted commas, talk to a City fan.

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