FIFA, Blatter and Weaponized Sport
Incumbent FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was re-elected to a fifth term in office by the 65th FIFA Congress in Zürich. Shortly before the Congress, Swiss police units cooperating with the United States’ FBI launched a series of arrests of FIFA officials on charges of corruption. The spectacle prompted international political raws along cold-war-like divides and underpinned that international sports and politics follow the propaganda tradition that was first inaugurated during the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin.
Blatter re-elected. FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was re-elected after the first ballot with 206 valid votes, reports FIFA. 133 voted for Blatter while 73 voted for His Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein even though Al-Hussein had addressed Congress to announce that he was withdrawing from the race. 209 FIFA member associations were entitled to vote. After his re-election, Blatter stated:
“First I want to congratulate HRH Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein. He obtained a very good result. Then I want to thank you for the trust and confidence. I take the responsibility to bring back FIFA where it should be, and promise you: at the end of my term, I will leave FIFA in a very strong position. Let’s go FIFA!”
Addressing the FBI supervised arrests in Zürich, Switzerland, Blatter said:
“Events of this week have cast a shadow on football (soccer) and our Congress. But the guilty ones – if confirmed guilty – are individuals, it’s not the entire organization! Now, we, altogether, have to repair the damage. Immediately! I’m calling on you to put FIFA back on the right track. YOU are FIFA and FIFA needs you.”
It is noteworthy that Blatter has been speaking up for greater inclusiveness towards the Football Associations of Asia & Oceania, and that he was relatively outspoken about Israel’s discrimination against the Palestinian national soccer team.
The 65th Congress approved of the creation of a committee which, under FIFA regulations, will oversee different matters affecting the development of football in Palestine. The measure was adopted after a handshake between Jibril Al Rajoub and Ofer Eni, after the Palestinian FA President withdrew the proposal to suspend the Israeli FA.
Nuremberg Principles for FIFA Presidents?
Blatter and a majority of FIFA representatives denounced the media campaign and statements by U.S.’ and other, especially western politicians and officials as politically motivated. Greg Dyke, the Chairman of the English Football Association, for his part, commented on the FBI-led investigation and arrests, saying:
“This is not by any means over. .. I’d just quote the Attorney General of the US: This is the beginning of an investigation, not the end. The idea that Blatter, who has been in the job for 16 years, can actually reform FIFA – it’s just not acceptable. So I’d be very surprised if Mr. Blatter is still in the job in two years time.”
Greg Dyke’s and the U.S. Attorney General’s statements imply Blatter’s guilt and are, arguably, deeming Blatter guilty even in “the early stages of an investigation”. Their statements bring to mind the London Statutes and the the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunals.
Article 7: The official position of defendants, whether Heads of State or responsible officials in Government Departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.
Most interesting, however, was the definition of justice that was introduced by articles 19 and 21, which read:
Article 19: The Tribunal shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence. It shall adopt and apply to the greatest possible extent expeditious and nontechnical procedure, and shall admit any evidence which it deems to be of probative value.
Article 21: The Tribunals shall not require proof of facts of common knowledge but shall take judicial notice thereof.
In other words? Anything goes and for those FIFA members who are compliant with the powers that be and / or useful, there is always the possibility of an “Operation Paperclip” or the British or Soviet post-WWII projects of similar nature?
Non-Political Sport Organizations?
All governments, worldwide, use sports to nurture nationalist and patriotic sentiments. The dawn of politicized and weaponized sport came along with the industrial revolution. The period signifies a transition from the use of small, professional armies to the need to mass mobilize the war-readiness of entire people.
It was Germany that set the new standard during the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. The first, globally transmitted, televised sporting event. FIFA, the International Olympic Committee and other international sports associations are deeply involved in politicizing and weaponizing sports on an international level. Their respective national organizations are, invariably, involved in politicizing and weaponizing sports on a national level. Whether all of their individual members are cognizant of the fact is another issue.
Allow me to conclude with a few rhetoric questions to make the point.
Which sound-minded members of a government, anywhere, would allow weekly spectacles of vandalizing hordes, costing vast sums of taxpayer money if these people had a politically valid message that was inconsistent with the fundamental political paradigm in any given country? As long as it’s hordes who are all exited about 22 people running after one ball it’s O.K. No expenses are spared. Entire cities are redesigned, low-cost housing is condemned to be substituted by a modern-day Colosseum. Isn’t it ironic that people can wrap their mind around a ball without understanding what’s inside of both the one and the other?
One of the very few times that I have seen an entire football stadium being used for a “political event” was during the 1973 military coup in Chile, and it was not for the benefit of “the sovereign”.
Was it about time that “the sovereign” wraps his head around more and other things than a ball and 22 people who are chasing it, FIFA, and corruption? What about arresting Wall Street Banksters in Zürich instead? Can you imagine Russian FSB agents launch a joint sting operation with Swiss police against Wall Street Banksters in Zürich? I can’t, maybe in Ulan Bator, not in Zürich.
Dr. Christof Lehmann an independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and the founder and editor in chief of nsnbc, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.