What we know today about Sepp Blatter and his shady dealings as FIFA president is just the tip of the iceberg. Taking money from potential host countries as a means to sway his opinion, Blatter chose France over Morocco in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and South Africa over Morocco in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Additionally, it has already been uncovered that other high ranking officials have taken money for smaller tournaments that are held bi-annually.
Many high ranking FIFA officials have either been convicted of, or have publicly announced that they took bribes in connection with multiple FIFA World Cups. If several high ranking officials, including its president, were willing to take bribes for two tournaments in the past 17 years, how likely is it that no money was exchanged for the 2002, 2006, or 2014 tournaments?
Is the public supposed to believe that some, but not most or even all, FIFA officials took bribes for every tournament? Did this actually start in 1998, or is the public just supposed to be that naïve? If high ranking officials are willing to take bribes for which country hosts the games, are they moral enough to not take bribes to help fix games at these very same tournaments? Doesn’t this call into question every questionable call made in a World Cup game since 1998? Is Sepp Blatter the first FIFA president to accept bribes? What about the tournaments that decide which countries even get to play in the World Cup?
This corruption scandal taints every World Cup going back to 1998, and perhaps even longer. How can Americans not look back at questionable red cards, hand ball penalties, and goals disallowed and not question whether the team they were facing just paid FIFA more? How can Mexico not watch amazing performances like the fantastic game Guillermo Ochoa had the last World Cup and not wonder if it was never going to matter anyways?
How does FIFA move on from this scandal? They are holding an “emergency” election for a new president in December after Blatter resigned earlier this week, which will be a start. What FIFA needs to do though is become transparent with their dealings, stop choosing questionable countries like Qatar to host World Cup games (because we all know that everyone will be thinking that the only reason Qatar was chosen is because they paid enough money), and hopefully stop making shady deals all-together.
It will be tough to overcome this scandal, especially once it fully blows up. Luckily, it will be three more years until the next World Cup and hopefully by that point most of the blowback will blow over. Still, this level of corruption shows that any sport, no matter how big or powerful, can fall prey to corruption. Are we willing to believe that our favorite sport would be squeaky clean if we looked into it?
I think we are all too smart for that.