Friday, October 30, 2015

Chp 22) Feigned Leadership

The cat's out of the bag when it comes to FIFA's indiscriminate, universally substandard and wholly criminal handling of its affairs.  The old boys' club ways that FIFA has run its organization for generations has finally come to light.  The overstepped boundaries and broken laws have led to a worldly perception of FIFA as 'corrupt.'  The intrinsic understanding for how FIFA has worked for all these years is one of corruption.

While there may have been some positive accomplished along the way by spreading the game to far corners of the earth, the implication from even the good deeds is that it was all done in order to make officials from FIFA and higher-ups from other football/soccer organizations more money in their pockets.

All of the 2015 summer and fall indictments of FIFA and soccer marketing personnel from around the globe are proof of how the organization has operated and for how the sport of soccer is used.  The sport wasn't cared for over these dozens of years, it was being taken advantage of by the people running it.  They have always been looking to maintain the status quo because that way the sport won't be taken away from them.

Could we really have ever thought that these people responsible for the sport were really willing to look after how the sport can be developed further for fan enjoyment?  Why tinker with it while you're making millions.  The public in all these countries are suckered in with soccer as their main avenue of sports fan participation and there's no need to improve their experience.

Americans have never even sniffed leadership roles regarding the implementation of the world's sport.  The absence of Americans from positions high up the FIFA food chain is more proof of the low expectations for rules changes to enhance fan participation with soccer.

How can the world expect this organization to care for the game the way it deserves to be taken care of?  The answer is, that the world can not.  Regardless, if you are somebody who believes in rules changes to increase scoring or not, you can't agree that this organization has the ability to adequately govern the sport.  Point made, like it or not, purists.

I wrote 'Purists, Traditionalists Align with FIFA' prior to the fallout and revelations of scandal in the organization, in 2014.

FIFA's biggest supporters are the purist and traditionalist fans who are satisfied with soccer's status quo.  They see anyone that challenges the 'Laws of the Game' as absurd and uneducated. Unfortunately, FIFA garners very little respect from the American and European mainstream media.

Generally speaking, the press doesn't have confidence in FIFA and portrays it as a good old boy warped entity. There just aren't enough checks and balances inside the organization to ensure that those who are making key decisions are doing so in the best interests of soccer. The political corruption that FIFA has perpetrated for years has earned them a scandalous reputation. The entire process to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups was disgraceful.  The funniest comment I've heard regarding FIFA came from Keith Olbermann, who said that FIFA makes "the IOC look like Doctors Without Borders."

Being so closely tied to FIFA, are the purists and traditionalists feeling uneasy?

There is an obvious lack of morals and integrity within FIFA.  These factors effect FIFA's ability to manage the sport. How can U.S. sports fans trust that soccer is being managed properly for the future? In the past year, issues concerning the rules of the game have been written about and analyzed more than ever before.  There are a constant flow of articles on how there should be changes to refereeing, substitutions and the use of technology.

Major League Baseball is in a similar boat with its purists and traditionalists.  Rules changes are bantered about and some progress is made, but nothing substantial.  The speed of play has been MLB's biggest issue.

Regardless of your perspective on how much you agree with all the 'Laws of the Game', there is no disputing that present-day FIFA can't be trusted to provide the guidance necessary to effectively modernize soccer. As FIFA's reputation continues to trend downward so does the reputation of purists and traditionalists.  With a know-it-all attitude, they continue to impose doubt and conflict onto the general sports fans of the U.S. who want to root for soccer.

I started writing about the business concept of professional soccer in this country as a failure way back in 2009, 'FIFA Blocks Goals: U.S. Pro Soccer Can't Score with Sports Fans.'   I wrote this article as two budding competitive leagues to MLS were being formed during a potential MLS players strike over wages.  The alternative to go out to play on their own terms was ripe for the taking. Instead, NASL and USL (The North American Soccer League and United Soccer Leagues) decided to copycat and seek sanctioning from USSF and FIFA.  USSF was not giving the sanctioning easily and was setting terms.  It seems pro soccer in the U.S. goes contrary to American idealism and capitalism.

Part of the difficulty for so many involved in the investment of professional Soccer in the U.S. is defining what is ‘success.’  Interestingly, it’s not part of the same definition of ‘success’ for owners of other professional sports teams. The major difference being that other sports franchises don’t have to rely on the approval of outside organizations to help gauge the success of their teams or leagues.  All approval and legitimacy comes strictly from the fans.

For all sports besides Soccer, there is only one dilemma for business owners.  Is it more important to make money or win championships?

Winning championships or making money is the business model that sports franchises have followed for years.  But, it is not the formula for professional Soccer in the U.S.  Their business model has always been to find approval from outside entities first, including USSF and FIFA, and then set about trying to win championships or make money.

What U.S. pro Soccer has not figured out is that the success made by NASCAR, the NHL, the NBA, MLB and the NFL was mostly predicated on the fact that they were originals and have not allowed outside influences to impact their goals of mixing the chase for a championship while trying to make money or the chase to make money while trying to win a championship.

Not being sanctioned by the USSF is a blessing in disguise for USL and the NASL.  They must embrace their new found freedom and search out what will bring them their best model for success.  With a strike looming in MLS, this blessing couldn’t have come at a better time. Counting on USSF or FIFA for sanctioning in order to be successful is a mistake.  Those most closely associated with pro Soccer in the U.S. are still not listening to the sports fans for guidance.  Sports fans continue to be ignored.  Their voice is not heard.

The governing body of soccer won't make the rules changes necessary to upgrade scoring opportunities anytime soon.  There's a strong likelihood it will happen over a great amount of time, though. This is evident from the newest committees formed by FIFA.  I wrote 'New FIFA Advisory Panels Bring American Attitude' early in 2015.

Decisions from the two new advisory panels set up to provide input to IFAB, the arm of FIFA that watches over the laws of the game, will be finalized in this week's 129th Annual General Meeting in Ireland.  The International Football Association Board (IFAB) will decide on whether to implement proposals submitted late last year for rules changes and how those implementations should occur.

The proposals include; the use of technology, sin-bins, a fourth substitute and the repercussions for an obvious defensive foul by a player in the penalty box (called triple punishment). These new advisory panels are set up to help combat FIFA's non-progressive and old-boy networking reputation.

Whether we like it or not, FIFA is a pervasive component in American sports culture and all sports cultures around the world. Arguably, it is the most influential organization in the world, wielding economic and political power in more than 200 countries. As soccer has grown steadily in the U.S. over the last several years, FIFA has become a more intrusive aspect in the lives of American sports fans and unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. FIFA has been in the news constantly for its lack of transparency and blatant ethics transgressions.

America can't get away from FIFA.  It is culturally and emotionally tied to it. Thankfully, though, a shift has begun. The ideas behind the advisory panels are American ones.  Their called oversight and innovation.

I'm not saying we're the only country in the world doing oversight and innovation or knows how to do them.  But, I am saying we are doing them on the grandest of scales and for the most part, we have done them well for a very long time.

As FIFA becomes a more encompassing aspect in American sporting life, its nice to finally see some American ways of doing things from them.  The panels are prototypes of how American companies work. The panels are meeting twice yearly.  How they perform and what they accomplish could be distinguishable in a short time.

It is a fresh beginning for one part of FIFA.

These panels are a positive, progressive step for sure, but make no mistake about it, in order for changes to occur sooner rather than later, American sports fan innovation is the key factor.  To see more offense and more great saves from goalies, Americans will have to do the changes on their own.

Most everything about FIFA's corruption has been revealed and is now out in the open.  Even Sepp Blatter, the repugnant leader of FIFA for more than 17 years, admits that there never was an actual process for voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.  These World Cups were already preordained to be handed to Russia and Qatar.  I had already written in 2011 about my feelings for the Qatar World Cup, '2022 World Cup Should Be Reallocated to the U.S.' 

In light of the recent news about Qatar acquiring the hosting responsibility for the 2022 World Cup through bribery, it is best for FIFA to award Soccer's biggest event to the U.S., who took the second most votes. This whole thing stunk from the beginning.  It didn't make sense Qatar could win FIFA's bidding process on merit alone.  What reasonable person would think it is the best option for hosting sport's biggest event.  What has Qatar, an absolute monarchy, done to have earned this kind of respect?

It was a sham from the moment Qatar was shown to have won the bid.  It was a huge insult hurled at the rest of the world just so a few men could be more greedy and sinister.  The bidding process obviously overlooked the most important aspect of Soccer's grandest stage, which country is suited to represent the best interests of Soccer. It probably doesn't make sense to have the process start all over.  FIFA needs to do the right thing as soon as possible.  FIFA's image is already tarnished and untrusted.  Really, it would be best if a new federation could come together to compete with FIFA.

Sepp Blatter and cronies, just hand over the reins to the United States now because you know you will have to sooner or later.  Admit the mistakes and let the U.S. smooth things over and make the masses content. The U.S. got the 2003 Women's World Cup after the SARS breakout in China and handled things with no problems.  Blatter and cronies, you got lucky, the U.S. got second place, this is your 'out.'  Now do the sensible thing.

There's eleven more years to go.  The closer it gets to 2022, the worst things will become.  Don't think the latest news will be Qatar's only glitch, its only bump in the road.  Surely, a country willing to do anything to bring attention to its aesthetics, while basically quelling most human rights and freedoms for women, gays and others, will pose many bigger problems ahead.

There are so many acts of corruption; there's just too many to talk about.  The 2006 awarding of the World Cup for Germany as a host is now believed to be dirty.  Apparently, soccer great Franz Beckenbauer and his cronies bought that World Cup like the others were bought.

The whole idea of a World Cup to be played in Qatar is farcical.  It's unbelievable to even think that this might happen.  Hopefully, if it does end up happening, it can be a turning point for world soccer. Unfortunately, though, there is the distinct possibility that all the criminal misdeeds, immoral decisions and cheating may still not bring solid change for the future of soccer.  I wondered what all of this corruption might mean to the Americanizing of soccer, in 2015, after most of the details were released, 'Will FIFA Reconstruction Expedite the Americanization of Soccer?'

After the FIFA implosion of 2015, will the reconstruction of the organization allow for progressive ideas to give the game a higher scoring average?

Any talk about the Americanization of the game carries one central tenet: scoring must increase.  In order for the game to be a year-round success with casual American sports fans, more goals will always be the answer.

After the dust has settled, I expect FIFA to remain in charge of the sport of soccer and I don't expect a lot of changes to the way it governs.  But, I do expect Qatar to lose the 2022 World Cup. Purist and traditionalist fans of soccer (the ones who don't want any rules changes and think the game is perfect the way it is) have been ignorant to the fact that they have been supporters to the corruption of FIFA all along.  

If FIFA had been a transparent organization over the last forty years, the rules of the game would have already progressed considerably.  New advisory panels are proof of how much FIFA took any contemporary ideas off the table for decades.  Hopefully, these panels are able to flourish under reconstruction.

There may be one aspect to the status quo of FIFA that will change under reconstruction.  I believe FIFA will be less likely to mettle into the affairs of individual leagues when it comes to altering the rules of the game in subtle ways. In this way, the post-Blatter FIFA may be different. For example, if a league wants to have more substitutions per game than the three currently permitted by FIFA rules, I don't see the newly reconstructed FIFA threatening to ban players from international play for continuing to play in that league.  Over the many years of FIFA control, leagues and players have been threatened by FIFA for trying to make subtle changes to rules.    

My hope is that FIFA eventually comes around to how FIBA (International Basketball) handles their international play for when there are differences in the rules of leagues among countries.  When FIBA had a trapezoid painted key for years, the NBA's rectangle painted key was never a problem. FIBA tournaments were always played with the trapezoid key until the rule was changed a couple years back.  Even now, the NBA rule for goaltending is different than the FIBA rule.  Still, there are no problems between FIBA and the NBA when it comes to goaltending as NBA players must adjust when they play FIBA tournaments.  

Any leeway given by FIFA to countries for how they want to administrate their leagues is a good thing.  I don't want the sport of soccer to become unrecognizable, but if a league in a country had ideas to make rules changes that made the sport look completely different on the field, it still shouldn't matter, because it's their league (A competitive league should have every right to form and look more or less like soccer, if it came to that situation).

The bottom line is that all the countries have their guiding associations (USSF for the U.S.) that prepare teams to be represented in FIFA-owned tournaments, including WC qualifiers, under the same rules worldwide.  Any changes to the sport at the individual league or country level won't and shouldn't matter anyways when it comes to the World Cup.  

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