From the Hart: FIFA Shades of Pay

tsj column writers - from the hartBy Ron Hart

Hey soccer, I thought we had a deal. Every four years we act like we care about the World Cup, and then you go away until the next time.

In its corrupt world soccer conspiracy, FIFA violated our unwritten agreement by getting back in the news. Sepp Blatter was elected to a fifth term as FIFA president; his sixth term might be in prison. He is the (ex-Illinois Governor) Rod Blagojevich of world soccer.

I’m pretty sure my uncle Mac had Sepp Blatter once after a long weekend in Las Vegas.

Blatter, 79, is dealing with a U.S. Justice Department criminal probe and the arrest of 14 FIFA officials for bribery in an international operation long known for corruption. They acted shocked at the allegations. It was the international equivalent of “There is no gambling at Bushwood Country Club.”

Our Justice Department has been contemplating charges against FIFA for 24 years. Indictments would have come earlier in the Obama administration had FIFA been Republican. In an instinctive attempt to get themselves out of trouble,  FIFA board members immediately awarded the U.S. Justice Department the beer concessions revenue from the 2018 World Cup.

The good news is that Americans might now pay attention to soccer if a corruption trial is involved. We do not like a sport where the score always seems to be 0 to 0. I scored more in junior high school … well, the same.

Soccer represents the cultural divide between us and the rest of the world. Most  soccer-obsessed countries take the day off for the FIFA-run World Cup, although they will shut down at any time for pretty much anything that might involve heavy drinking and the possibility of a fistfight. Most soccer countries have riot-based economies anyway.

If Obama had his way, the U.S. would subjugate itself to corrupt world bodies like the U.N. and FIFA.

It is this international culture of corruption and non-accountability which prompted the Clinton Foundation to do most of its fund raising overseas. Predictably, FIFA has been a big donor to the Clinton Foundation, which accounted for its contributions under “hush money.” The foundation has both “slush” and “hush” money accounts.

Obama helped to pitch our most corrupt city, Chicago, to FIFA for a World Cup venue. He brought in Bill Clinton to make the case for bringing this soccer event to the USA. Bill had a proven track record of getting things done well under that table and in hallways. But you could tell Clinton’s heart was not in pitching us for soccer – a game where men cannot use their hands.

We really wouldn’t want the games. Americans have more interest in a Monster Truck show. It’s more entertaining and smells better than an international soccer match.

The 2014 World Cup final pitted Germany against Argentina. The only folks more torn about whom to pull for than we Americans were ex-Nazis living in Argentina since WWII.   Teams who played well in the World Cup historically were from Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay. For those at The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the World Cup was like a Nazi hunter’s buffet.

All countries revert to type. Once Germany conquered Argentina in the finals, they instinctively wanted to keep rolling into Austria and Czechoslovakia, and then Poland.

During the same week as the win, German Chancellor Angela Merkel found out that Obama’s CIA had been spying on her. Again. This came after she learned that the NSA had tapped her cell phone. Only our government could look at Angela Merkel and say, “Yeah, I’d tap that.”

Clearly, the Iraqi team had no chance of winning its matches. When play heated up, Iraqi players took off the uniforms America provided for them at great cost, threw them on the ground for the other team to take, and ran.

Vladimir Putin scolded the U.S. for bringing charges against FIFA. He was accused of bribing a FIFA official with a Picasso portrait to secure the games for mother Russia. To be fair to Putin, it was not so much a bribe as it was an illustration of what that official’s face would look like if Russia didn’t get the 2018 games as promised.

You have to hand it to the FIFA soccer officials. They brazenly pocketed an estimated $119 million in bribes and kickbacks. That’s hard to do when you’re not allowed to use your hands.

(Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, author and TV/radio commentator.  Email Ron@RonaldHart.com or at visit RonaldHart.com)

 

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