“Attitude reflects leadership, captain”.
That line from Remember the Titans has always managed to strike a chord in me. With that in mind, you can imagine how the soccer world feels this morning, waking up to yet another reign of Sepp Blatter as FIFA President.
The soccer world was turned on its head this week as allegations of corruption and bribery led to the arrest of several high ranking officials within FIFA. The American-led task force, anchored by the cooperation of guilty FIFA member Chuck Blazer, serving as an informant in hopes of lessening his own sentence, came down swiftly and without prejudice on soccer’s supreme power.
With the rapidity and severity of the actions against FIFA, the world took notice. The story was plastered over every news outlet, leaving people everywhere pointing at the soccer world with a shameful finger.
“What’s wrong with FIFA?”, a thousand of my friends and family have asked me over the past few days.
“That’s not right, what they did”, someone added, as if me being a soccer fan would somehow mean that I justified the actions.
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The hard truth here is that no one with any knowledge of the inner and outer workings of FIFA was shocked by this news. The scary thing for me, from the perspective of a USA soccer fan, is how this may come back to hurt the United States.
There’s no denying that the timing of the allegations against the FIFA officials was, in theory, very fortuitous. Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s President since 1998, was up for reelection Friday, and an indictment against his officials seemed a decent opportunity to unseat the much maligned leader.
The US even came out publicly against Blatter, with US Soccer President Sunil Gulati claiming that he would instruct the US delegate to vote against Blatter in Friday’s election.
To say that Blatter and the United States have an interesting relationship would be to understate the magnitude of the rift between the two.
Just to typify how little Blatter seems to care about the US, Alex Morgan, arguably the United States’ most iconic soccer player, reported that Blatter didn’t recognize her at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in which Morgan was a finalist.
To put that in other terms, it would be like the Olympic chairman not recognizing Usain Bolt when he comes up to accept his gold medal. If you’re the leader of the Olympics, you know who Usain Bolt is. If you’re the President of FIFA, you should know who Alex Morgan is.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Blatter. If I were writing an article about the reasons I have issues with him and so does the rest of the soccer world, I would run out of type space.
The alarming thing is that what could have been a mighty blow against Blatter’s reign and a victory for the soccer world has become a nightmare. Blatter won reelection yesterday and begins his fifth term as President.
And it is no mystery to Blatter as to why the allegations came up when they did. In an interview yesterday, Blatter slammed UEFA and the United States for the timing of their campaign against him. You see, Blatter’s a smart guy. You don’t come to be President of FIFA for 17 years without having some sense about you.
He believes that the US is bitter for losing their bid for the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, the Middle Eastern nation with a lot of money and a lot of influence. Over the past several years, Qatar has seen a meteoric rise in the soccer world, many believe as a result of money, and their selection as the host of the World Cup raised a few eyebrows.
For a nation trying to establish its stance in the global game, the United States was rightfully upset by the selection, especially considering the allegations of bribery and corruption that have come out.
Now, the public declaration the United States made against Blatter could come back to bite them.
How exactly the mutual bitterness between the United States and Sepp Blatter will play out is yet to be seen. It’s never a good thing when you take a stance against someone, only to see it backfire and have that person reign over you for the foreseeable future and essentially control your destiny. Don’t expect the US to win a World Cup bid any time soon…
While Blatter claims to have had no part in the bribery and the corruption and the awful mess that is FIFA, he certainly hasn’t denounced it as much as he could have. Rather than condemning the nature of the allegations, he condemned the accusers for the timing of their actions. Hmm. Doesn’t sound like an innocent man to me.
Regardless, Blatter got his victory. Yesterday proved that no amount of evidence against the man and no effort from the United States could bring him down. Unfortunately for the US, Blatter won yesterday; everyone else lost.
For the next several years, I can assure you, attitude will reflect leadership, Sepp.