Sunday, May 8, 2011

In Historic Campaign, SI's Wahl Exposes FIFA Collusion

Grant Wahl
Wahl, author and journalist for Sports Illustrated, penetrated deep into internal FIFA politics during his run for President of the organization.  He has written an excellent account of his attempts to convince various countries to represent them as candidate for President of Soccer's world governing body.  The information he provides in the article exposes FIFA for what it is, a monopolistic old-boy network, slow to progress.

His article details his numerous encounters by phone and in person with officials of Soccer associations from various countries.  In his dealings, it becomes clear Soccer's governing body does not have a firm grip on how to deal with its future.  There is confusion, an inequality among countries and an unsavory justice for how things really get done.  Ultimately, his experience puts FIFA further into the abyss and casts more doubt on how Qatar earned the 2022 World Cup.

What Wahl uncovered during his foray was how incredibly backward FIFA is run.  There is no method to the madness for electing a President.  It is intimidating for all countries to put a candidate forward for fear of reprisal from those in charge, kind of like the MOB. 

Since his run for President, Wahl remains consistent on why change is necessary and is adamant FIFA does not take fans interests into consideration when making decisions that effect the game.  Wahl's participation in FIFA politics was a symbol of American innovation.  He started something when no one else would and got a message out that many around the world felt strongly about.  No American man or woman has been FIFA President and while Wahl did not even get a nomination, he did make an impact.

In some sense, Wahl's campaign was about Americanizing the game.  It may not have been all about changing rules, but clearly there were elements of Americanization.  His story is about equal and fair representation, standing up for what's right and appreciating fans' sentiments. 

America is the best place for Soccer's world governing body to be.  The game would grow into its best form possible.  This may not have been Wahl's desired effect, but the reality is America knows its sports and knows whats best for sports fans.

It is unusual and rare for Americans to take part in organizations that don't make common sense, but it happens every day for the U.S. Soccer Federation.  Soon they will join other CONCACAF countries to vote for FIFA President together as a group.  Individually, the U.S. has no voice for who it wants, as it must go with the group.  This is one more indication of the inability for the entire organization to get away from the past and back to the future.

One wonders how things could be different with more of an Americanization of FIFA.

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