For decades, our global betters have been urging Americans to take more of an interest in soccer. And we have–though not the interest the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) had in mind.
This week, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that 14 FIFA officials had been indicted for corruption.
In somewhat related news, FIFA is to vote Friday on suspending Israel from international soccer because of security-related travel restrictions on some Palestinian players. (Update: The Palestinians have since withdrawn their motion.)
Of course, only Israel is being singled out–part of a Palestinian strategy to delegitimize Israel through global institutions in which Third World despotisms have disproportionate clout.
For years, the Palestinians have used soccer to promote terror–naming teams, fields and tournaments after suicide bombers, for example–but FIFA has never cared about that, nor does it care much about the human rights practices of Russia and Qatar, hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively.
Now that America (and Switzerland) have stood up to the bribery and graft behind the scenes that soccer fans have long suspected, the usual suspects are coming to FIFA’s defense.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. of suppressing both international soccer and domestic dissent: “Our American counterparts, unfortunately, are using the same methods to reach their goals and illegally persecute people. I don’t rule out that this is the case in relation to FIFA.”
In a way, Putin is right to cast suspicion on the DOJ: its partisan agenda is evident both in whom it pursues (Bob Menendez, Dinesh D’Souza, George Zimmerman) and whom it protects (Black Panthers, Eric Holder, the IRS, the Clinton Foundation).
But not everything or everyone at the DOJ is infected by politics. If any bias is present here, it is our national indifference to “the beautiful game”–which is why, perhaps, the U.S. is the natural leader of the fight against FIFA sleaze.
Soccer aside, there is no redeeming international institutions like FIFA or the UN. They are incurably rotten because they lack any real accountability or oversight. And they are susceptible to political manipulation by countries that control large voting blocs.
As powerful as it is in real terms, the U.S. often finds itself isolated in the minority at these institutions, which use the tyranny of the undemocratic majority to undermine American power and to weaken Israeli security against terror.
Israelis initially saw the FIFA scandal as a stroke of good luck–perhaps a reason to postpone the grim vote on the Palestinian proposal to suspend Israel–or a way to discredit the organization later, in the event that the motion passed. But a sad fatalism crept in, as Israelis were reminded that their enemies do not care about the truth of the allegations that they make, or the integrity of the institutions in which they make them, so long as the false charges are repeated often enough.
The very fact that FIFA is even considering the proposal–as if the organization had any moral standing whatsoever after this week–is significant in itself. It sets the stage for further Palestinian campaigns against Israel–and also for a pushback against the United States, which Putin (and others) wasted no time in launching, and which will attract FIFA members who need Russia’s oil, weapons and money more than they need America’s participation in scoreless ties and penalty shootouts.
George Orwell once dismissed the idea of using soccer to bring nations together: “There are quite enough real causes of trouble already, and we need not add to them by encouraging young men to kick each other on the shins amid the roars of infuriated spectators,” he wrote.
FIFA has confirmed the case for skepticism. It is being used as a forum for anti-American and anti-Israeli propaganda. It might as well stand for “F— Israel, F—America”–a mantra shared by other discredited international bodies.