I am a pretty regular CounterPunch reader. I am neither a communist, nor an atheist, nor a conspiracy theorist, nor an anarchist, nor a Russian, nor a Chinese. I am a Muslim – yikes, I guess that is all the disqualification I require to open my mouth. I am also not a huge fan of American foreign policy as it is practiced with lots of fancy weapons and huge amounts of dollars.
I am not a huge football fan. When I was younger, we used to passionately tune into the World Cup if it was being televised where my family lived, at whatever hour of the day or night, but that was about the extent of it. Today, in the age of a football game a minute where my children who have never been anywhere near England are passionate English Premier League fans and are fervent, no fanatical, “supporters” of Liverpool and Manchester United, well, I guess the world has changed, and the number of bucks people make off football and therefore the whole shebang not least.
But the United States does not control football. In fact the United States does not even call the game the whole world knows and loves as football football. It calls it soccer. Be that as it may, the United States considers it its right and duty to chop off the head of the body that governs world football when the rest of the world whose football that body governs does not have a particular problem with the way football is governed.
And how does it do this? By having the FBI apparently conclude that a handful, 7 or so, of members of the world body governing football received bribes in the order of 150 million or so dollars over a period of 10 to 20 years. That would work out, in the most extreme case, to around 2 million dollars a year for each of those seven members. And so FIFA has been shaken – or kicked – to its very foundations. It sort of reminds me of the line in the first Austin Powers movie when Dr Evil is brought back to life after having been frozen for fifty or so years and plots to hold the world to ransom for a sum of … one million dollars. Also easy enough, I suppose, to kick a Swiss headquartered sports body as the numbers of countries that can be easily invaded and victory declared has dwindled over the years.
Never mind the fact that amongst football World Cups to come, two are scheduled to be hosted by Russia and Qatar. And that amongst the unsuccessful contenders to host these multibillion dollar extravaganzas were … the US and its ever loyal and faithful sidekick across the pond. And that there are now more and more voices – led by the sidekick as US persons don’t really care about soccer or the soccer world cup – suggesting that as the awards for these two locations were made by a corrupt governing body they should be reconsidered. After, of course, American less, and British more, architects, engineers, designers, construction companies, accountants, lawyers and consultants galore have probably already sucked billions or more likely tens of billions of dollars out of Qatar. And having done that are quite certain that awarding the world cup to Qatar (which has a simply dreadful labour rights record, after all) was a simply appalling error of judgement. Not cricket at all, old chap.
I hold no brief for Sepp Blatter. I don’t know much about him. My limited understanding is: Swiss lawyer who got to the top of FIFA fifteen or twenty years ago and has held on ever since. Probably a bit of a hard act. Not an angel. And someone whom the UK media goes after with incredible enthusiasm and viciousness every few years and true to form has spared no effort to kick and scratch at and spit on this time around, never mind the total absence of anything resembling fact based accusations much less formal charges of wrongdoing. And as far as I am concerned anyone whom the UK media goes after with such focus and determination probably can’t be all bad.
I gather every African FIFA state voted for Mr Blatter in the recent FIFA election. But Africans can’t be trusted, can they? One, they’re not adult enough to know what their best interests really are. And two, Blatter and his terrible cronies no doubt bribed them all. But if the best the FBI can come up with is US$150 million over 10 plus years? No, Africans are childish and they accept very moderate bribes. If you want to talk real bribes, you should ask Prince Bandar or Tony Blair or Prince Andrew. But don’t, because they are gentlemen, and it is not very gentlemanly to speak of things like bribes in polite company.
The whole thing stinks. And I for one am rather tickled that Mr Blatter first soundly defeated his US sponsored rival candidate, by whom I mean Prince Ali Hussain of Jordan, and by Jordan I mean a place that has no reason to exist other than to periodically be trotted out as a fervent supporter of US policy objectives of whatever nature, and then elected to resign. Never mind the fact that Mr Blatter secured a majority of votes from a major world body – we all know that ragheads and Africans and Russkies and Pinkos can’t be trusted with a vote.
Will they take the World Cups to come away from Russia and Qatar? Who knows. Will they announce that they will be awarded to the US and the UK to whom any sensible person or body would naturally have awarded them in the first place? Who knows.
All that I do know is this: they wanted Mr Blatter’s head and they got it. Moral of the story: don’t mess with the Empire and it’s loyalest lackey.
Sher Ali Khan has been a development, banking, and energy sector professional. He is based in Pakistan and continues to hope that some sanity in world affairs is not unimaginable.