Saturday, September 26, 2015

Is that John Oliver cheering as the noose apparently begins to tighten around world soccer supremo Sepp Blatter's neck?



The June 2014 FIFA report

The June 2015 "FIFA II" update

In the "FIFA II" update, John demonstrated just how far he was prepared to go in support of his urgent plea to FIFA's commercial sponsors: "Please! Make Sepp Blatter go away! I will do anything!"

by Ken

If you're not up on Sepp Blatter, the Sheik of Soccer, as I've called him, or perhaps better described as the boss of all bosses of the international soccer crime syndicate, you might want to take a look at John O's 2014 report above, which I first included in a June 29 post, "Let the games begin! John Oliver introduces us to FIFA, the World Cup™ governing body, and Michael Palin introduces us to Brazil."

What we learned was that Sepp has run FIFA, the governing body for international soccer, including most conspicuously its premier event, the World Cup (oops, I should have said the FIFA World Cup), like any international crime boss, in the process extracting from the sport -- meaning ultimately, of course, the fans -- zillions of dollars for the coffers of FIFA and its worldwide team of cronies. (One of my favorite moments in "FIFA Shows 'Em Who's in Charge" history is the clip of the repulsive Jérôme Valcke in the 2014 Last Week Tonight segment making unarguably clear that Brazilian government officials who think they can outlaw beer sales in the country's stadiums have another think coming -- Budweiser being, of course, one of the core FIFA sponsors.)

When last we heard from FIFA, in a pair of 2015 posts, one on May 28, "Is the $6,000 cat apartment enough to ring down the curtain on soccer once and for all?," and one on June 2, "Did John Oliver bring down FIFA's Sepp Blatter? Or was it the heat on smarmy FIFA Sec'y Gen'l Jérôme Valcke? Or maybe heat from other sources?," it was in the wake of developments reported in a
May 26 New York Daily News story, "Top FIFA officials arrested after federal probe days before boss Sepp Blatter is expected to be re-elected," which began:
Turmoil has engulfed FIFA, world soccer’s notoriously corrupt governing body, after a wave of international arrests of its top executives and the unsealing of a 47-count U.S. federal indictment based in the Eastern District of New York.

The arrests commenced early Wednesday morning led by Swiss authorities working in conjunction with U.S. law enforcement officials. At least 14 individuals were charged by prosecutors, with more charges possible after Swiss police seized records at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich.
From which it looked as if the sheik was finally throwing in the towel, even with his inevitable reelection following mere days later.

A victory, right? except that here we are these months later, and there's Sepp still in the FIFA saddle! But maybe not for too much longer. And, perhaps more important to people who for some reason care about soccer, it looks as if Sepp's likeliest heir apparent may be dragged off the playing field as well.

CNN's James Masters began a report yesterday (updated today), "FIFA President Sepp Blatter is focus of Swiss probe, officials say" (links onsite):
Sepp Blatter's tenure as FIFA president suffered a new blow after the Swiss attorney general opened an investigation targeting him on "suspicion of criminal mismanagement."

A statement released by the office of the attorney general of Switzerland confirmed it was examining a contract signed by Blatter with the Caribbean Football Union and an alleged "disloyal payment" of 2 million Swiss francs (about $2 million US) to Michel Platini, the head of European football body UEFA.

Former senior FIFA official Jack Warner was indicted in a wide-ranging bribery scandal, while Platini entered the race to succeed Blatter as FIFA president in July.

The statement was released after Blatter, who has been in charge of soccer's world governing body since 1998, was interrogated by the Swiss attorney general's representatives Friday following a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich.

And BBC Sport reported earlier today (links onsite):
Fifa: Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini investigated by ethics committee

Fifa president Sepp Blatter and European football chief Michel Platini are facing an investigation by Fifa's ethics committee.

The move comes after the Swiss attorney general opened criminal proceedings against Blatter, 79.

He is accused of signing a contract "unfavourable" to football's governing body and making a "disloyal payment" to Uefa president Platini, 60.

Blatter denies wrongdoing and his lawyer says he is co-operating fully.

The ethics committee is looking into the circumstances of a payment of two million Swiss francs (£1.35m) that Platini received in 2011 for work said to have been carried out more than nine years previously, reported the Press Association.

Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings against Blatter on Friday.

Platini - who worked as Blatter's technical advisor between 1999 and 2002 - was interviewed as a witness by officers from the attorney general's office.

The Frenchman is yet to explain the nine-year delay in payment but he too denies any wrongdoing.


As John Oliver notes in explaining Sepp's hold on power at FIFA, "Under FIFA's system, leadership never changes." Partly this is a matter of the disproportionate clout enjoyed by small countries in the divvying up of the FIFA loot, but more basically it has to do with an organization so systematically corrupt that you can expect pretty much anyone with a voice in the organization to be up to his eyeballs in the corruption.

So anything that makes it less likely that Sepp's successor doesn't come from "the ranks" increases the possibility that real change just might happen at FIFA.

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