Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Another Reason To Dislike Football

For the good of what? The game?
They call it soccer in America, to distinguish the sport from their version of mayhem, and it is growing in popularity. Suburban children can be seen swarming pitches in every well-heeled community, kicking the old football around.

Now the soccer-despising among us will have further reason to kick the sport itself around.

What's sauce for the Olympic committee is apparently good for the footballers as well. The culture of bribery that formed the backbone of the group that was charged with finding venues for Olympic games has infected football's governing body as well. Police in Switzerland raided the offices of the Federation Internationale de Football Association and arrested several of the group's officials. Police in the US staged a raid on FIFA offices there as well, arresting a few important people on charges of corruption.

So it seems that you aren't the only one wondering how the World Cup match was awarded to a country like Qatar, where the climate in summer is less than ideal for an outdoor sport, and where the matches played always in the peak of summer were miraculously rescheduled to a cooler time of year in the Arabian desert.

You want your sports honest and free of bribery. It's supposed to be a skills contest, with the best team coming out the winner.

Like the Olympics, the World Cup site is coveted for the tourism it brings, and when a country wants something bad enough it will offer a little cash incentive. Our sports officials are supposed to be above that sort of thing. Judging by the raid on FIFA offices, they are not. According to the indictment, the officials not only were down in the gutter, but they had the audacity to ask for illegal payments.

The raid came as the FIFA officials gathered for their meeting in Zurich. It's that time of the sports schedule, when FIFA's president is to be elected, and if you're going to nab an international crime ring, it's easier to gather them up at a gathering. Those arrested in Switzerland are to be sent on to America to face trial for crimes that the Federal Bureau of Investigation alleges were conducted over a span of decades.

So if you despise soccer, you have even more reason to hate the sport that is played all over the world but not so much in America where it is seen as a game suitable for children or girls, but not real men.

Now the governing body has shown that there is another game being run in addition to FIFA's namesake sport. It's a game played by adults, and it is an international game with high stakes but a comfortable pay-out for the winners.

And as the un-arrested officials gather to elect their president, and decide if the man who led FIFA through all those years of bribery, extortion and money-laundering, is deserving of a fifth term. Authorities have pointed out that Sepp Blatter, the king of football, has not been arrested or charged with any wrongdoing, but the seeds of doubt have been sown.

He'll just have to buy his votes if he's keen to keep his lofty position.

Which should not be difficult. It's a way of life for those who control the sport of football.

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