Americans are notable for our love of football. It’s the most American sport, isn’t it? To quote George Will, “Football combines the two worst things about America: It is violence punctuated by committee meetings.” How could any red-blooded American resist something like that?
Europeans (and the rest of the world) of course are also obsessed with their own bizarre game, also called “football” for some reason, enough that their “football” World Cup draws people from all over the world, and furthermore, apparently draws bribes to the pockets of officials of Federation Internationale de Football Association, which most of us know as FIFA. (We of course refer to the sport by its proper name, “soccer,” to avoid confusion.)
It’s been common knowledge that FIFA is a ludicrously corrupt organization, even more so than the International Olympic Committee, whose demands at Olympic venues now regularly include dedicated traffic lanes in Olympic cities for officials and open bars for IOC members at nearly every event. FIFA officials straight-up accepted bribes for World Cup votes, for instance.
Well, the U.S. Department of Justice has decided that enough is enough, and has arrested and charged at least 14 officials under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. This is, of course the law that took down the mob, and the DOJ has a 93 percent success rate in convictions under RICO. Though it is early to speculate, there’s a decent chance that the DOJ could burn FIFA to the ground over this — the 164-page indictment (which is careful never to say “football” where they mean “soccer”) was the result of 24 years of investigation, and this is likely only the first in a long line of arrests. (Already, Switzerland, where the arrests occurred, has barred FIFA President Seth Blatter from leaving the country, along with other high-ranking-but-not-yet-indicted FIFA officials.)
One might think that this unilateral action would draw international ire, but according to BBC News, “God Bless America!” has been the reaction across the British Isles and the Continent. No government was willing to root FIFA out, since the possibility of being barred from the league is political suicide. America, of course, doesn’t care about soccer, so the political fallout is minimal, and our DOJ can, with confidence, eviscerate FIFA and leave its corpse for the vultures. Hooray!
We like to think of ourselves as a sort of “world police force,” and while this is usually applied to our unilateral military actions overseas, it’s nice for once to see one of our foreign adventures leave a positive impression.
Unfortunately, we’re still many indictments away from getting the Europeans to call it “soccer.” But with luck, we’ll get there.