Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) appears to most as yet another monolithic institution constructing one of many walls of our modern, civilized world. Above questioning, it is an institution many depend on for entertainment and solace in their otherwise meaningless and mundane lives. Attaching their ego to FIFA allows them, if only for a moment, to participate in the challenge and glory they perceive as playing out on the football pitch.
Yet recently, FIFA has escaped from the pages of the sports section, and sneaked onto the front of newspapers and in the lead of news broadcasts worldwide, not because of their function as a sports institution, but because of immense corruption revealed amid their inner workings.
This pinhole through the fabric of our comfortable fantasy world gives us but a limited glimpse into the rot that lays on the other side, one of corruption, debauchery and the leveraging of a popular sport to advance geopolitical ambitions. Peering through that pinhole, we see financial corruption, bribery and political maneuvering involving Fortune 500 corporations, notorious state-sponsors of terrorism and a US law enforcement agency that believes its jurisdiction extends across the entire surface of the planet.
Indeed, behind the seemingly harmless facade of professional sports, we see just about everything that is wrong with this planet staring us back in the face.
Corporate-Subsidized Bread & Circus
For starters, the shame game surrounding the recent scandal included newspapers encapsulating just how big FIFA is, including the listing of the sponsors that keep it in business. This includes Adidas, Coca-Cola, Sony, Visa, McDonald’s, Castrol, Johnson & Johnson, and others. People spending their free time, money, and attention on football are likely unaware of and/or unconcerned with the unwarranted power and influence of these corporations and the role they play in influencing the daily misery these people seek an escape from through football games in the first place.
What empires throughout human history have learned well is that an exploited population will literally let their lives fall apart around them if only you provide for them “bread and circus” in ample quantities even up to and including the day the empire itself collapses.
The current corporacratic empire ruling over the planet today has a multitude of spectacles and distractions to accomplish this same function with and in ways the ancient Romans could never have imagined.
The Weaponization of Sports
To cash in the greatest possible value of this popular distraction and the current hysteria surrounding the scandal it is now embroiled in, media houses and various legal institutions across North America and Europe have decided to use this opportunity to take shots at their enemies geopolitically. Making Russia appear as somehow involved in or even behind the recent FIFA scandal simply adds to an already concerted full-spectrum public relations attack on Moscow.
Meanwhile, these same media houses pay lip-service to Qatar’s questionable World Cup bid simply to make it seem this nation, led by an unelected hereditary dictator, openly sponsoring terrorism across the planet in tandem with its neighboring Arabian autocracies, may too risk losing its chance to host the Cup.
In reality, one must seriously ponder the question as to why Qatar would have been considered in the first place. After all, nations with elected governments, even if those elections are considered “rigged,” have been condemned and deprived of their dignity for far less by the US and EU.
We see yet another issue intentionally leveraged with familiar double standards applied to redefine reality for what influential interests across the Western World must assume is an infinitely impressionable public.
US Agencies, Global Jurisdiction
Another troubling aspect revealed during the FIFA scandal is the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) extending its jurisdiction far beyond the territorial borders of the United States, literally encompassing the entire planet.
Reuters would report:
The FBI’s investigation of bribery and corruption at FIFA includes scrutiny of how soccer’s governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar, a U.S. law enforcement official said.
Russia and Qatar have denied wrongdoing in the conduct of their bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, which were not the subject of charges announced by U.S. prosecutors a week ago against FIFA officials that stunned world soccer.
But Reuters never explains why the FBI has any say in this matter in the first place. FIFA is based in Paris, France. Neither Russia nor Qatar fall within American borders. Exactly how does an alleged scandal involving three separate nations oceans away from the US involve the FBI?
Rather than any particular legal or moral obligation, Washington likely feels that pressuring both its allies and enemies through strictly geopolitical channels alone is no longer adequate, and decided to derail the supply trains of bread & circus for football fans who exist mostly beyond North America.
Once again, the world is faced with either capitulating to US pressure, or allowing the US to further isolate itself through its inappropriate, unsolicited meddling.
For the rest of the world, the public must begin to understand that absolutely everything that constitutes their modern civilization is controlled and therefore tainted by unsavory special interests who can take everything, including a fun game, and turn it into a geopolitical weapon, a means of manipulating public perception and yet another distraction to consume our time, energy and attention from paying it toward real issues.
For nations like Russia where football is popular, it pays a price for involving itself with institutions of, by and for the very special interests that would like to see Moscow reduced to its former 1990’s level of disorganization and impotence so that it, like the EU and all of North America, can also be mercilessly looted. While Russia and the rest of BRICS seek an escape from Western monetary, security and legal monopolies, perhaps it is time to seek an escape from those involving professional sports as well…
Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.