FIFA Corruption Scandal Links & Time To Shakedown

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I won’t bore you with another mega-post detailing this FIFA crap. Just remember two things: 1) As long as FIFA gets (practically) free labor from players and shifts the burden of hosting to countries, then they will be a money-grubbing gang of crooks with no incentive to change. 2) FIFA is not a dictatorship, it is a 21st century kleptocracy ala Latin America where the forces of capital hollow out democratic mechanisms.

Now let’s look at what some smart people have to say. And, lastly, an idea.

Jennifer of From a Left Wing painted a picture of contrasts. On the one hand, Barcelona played an almost perfect game to defeat Manchester United. The Red Devils did not resort to hack-a-Xavi tactics, instead attempting an open game but getting ran over. In contrast to this defeated spirit of fair play, FIFA’s “internal investigation” of corruption reeks of a desperate political power play. It appears that Sepp Blatter only instituted this inquiry to run off his opponent and get his friends to clear his name. I doubt the suspensions of Warner and MBH will lead to expulsions. Pathetic. But fully expected.

The English FA recognized this election for an utter farce and is not voting in protest. MBH criticized the English FA for not voting. Then, he withdraw his candidacy after the corruption probe. Why? Well, as noted in that CNS article, the last man to challenge Sepp Blatter, IssaHayatou in 2002, at least retained his job and allegedly received a delightful $1.5 million bung to vote for Qatar recently. If MBH seriously challenged Blatter, he may lose his current perch….and the related graft. Can you blame him?

Granted, England’s abstaining from voting was more symbolic than functional. When you don’t vote in an election, you obviously lose your ability to influence it in a miniscule way. But given that MBH has withdrawn his candidacy, the no-vote was arguably even more symbolically powerful. It’s a nice little finger to Sepp Blatter and his era of briefcases full of cash.

Ian from 200 Percent detailed the “Warner allegations” and rightly points out – corruption is but a question of degree, not “if.” Ian points us rightly to ChangeFifa, a website with some good ideas for corporate government reforms. But how can we ever achieve reform with such a rotten center? There is hope. Just follow the trail of cash.

Brian from Sportingnews did some great leg work to track down and contact the corporate sponsors of FIFA. Some of them were willing to give a direct comment, but then came retractions. Still, for your records, they are ADIDAS, VISA, EMIRATES, and COCA-COLA. Since Brian’s article, Adidas and Coke have released statements expressing concern. So did the Emirates. But was that just PR? It seems so. But I also see an opening.

Here’s my idea: a consumer preference power play/boycott. In my last post on human trafficking in youth soccer, people rightly asked: what is the nuts & bolts solution? My vague response was “don’t settle for the superficial best product/cheapest price.” I’m still chewing, folks. But the FIFA dilemma has a simple response.

In Jennifer’s excellent aforementioned piece, she cites a concept called “interpassivity” made famous by Slavoj Zizek. Basically, everyday we make consumption choices with nary a thought. These choices add up big time. Corporations fight to turn us into amoral and unthinking zombies who consume. Hence, marketing. So I recommend some “inter-action.” In what form, you rightly ask?

While ChangeFifa has started a facebook and twitter to propose concrete reforms for FIFA, we also need to hit them where it hurts: sponsorships. Sponsors associate with an entity to sell products and establish good will with the public – we must flip this association on its head. And the marketplace offers plenty of lovely non-FIFA sponsor alternatives. Thus, here are a few general principles….

Instead of using VISA, prefer MASTERCARD. If you apply for a credit card or choose which one to use, choose the latter.

Instead of using COCA-COLA products, use PEPSI. If you drink carbonated beverages, opt for Pepsi.

Instead of using ADIDAS, opt for NIKE. If you are buying a new soccer ball, jersey, or cleats, then purchase Nike or Pumas.

And so on. This is basically a Fifa Sponsors Pledge.

Note: you could also simply not use credit cards, consume carbonated beverages, or buy sporting equipment.

I really don’t have the tech savvy or traffic to start a decent online petition. This is also more of a piggyback to changeFifa. Thus, if you know about online petitions and/or run a behemoth soccer site and like the idea, please spread the word. If enough people slightly tweak their consumer preferences, then these companies will take a major hit. And if there’s a Facebook page explaining why, then all the better. And if not, then at least no FIFA dollars-for-Sepp-diamonds will stain your next soccer shoe purchase.

Thus, I, for one, am going to heroically use my Discover card to buy a new pair of Nike cleats. And no more rum & cokes. Only rum & Pepsi. Viva La Revolucion!

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