FIFA Mon Amour...

The coup-d'etat of an international institution

FIFA President Sepp Blatter (REUTERS and Wiegmann)
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (REUTERS and Wiegmann)
7 AUG 2015

Well... not literally, I actually have little sympathy for the people who are making big money whilst endangering lives and health of minds of thousands if not millions of mainly young people even if they are not legally deemed corrupt (see.: Should we ban playing football? - How football contributes to the recent financial crisis and the Great Recession [1]). The recent decision of US authorities to charge numerous FIFA leaders for corruption was like a bombshell for modern culture and the world of sport... and more like a nuclear bombshell.

But straight to the point, what may be of much wider significance of the decision is to effectively perform a coup-d'etat of a well-known, international institution. It is not a government however, …not yet at least.

When the US strategists pondered where to detonate their first nuclear bombs, their decision was not to behead the state of Japan by bombing Tokyo and the government headquarters but to destroy smaller towns, Hiroshima and Nagasaki first. The choice of their targets was an optimal one and characterises many later decisions made by their policy makers. Instead of beheading the state and prolonging the war further until the ultimate conquer, with the the high costs in money and soldier lives, by bombing two cities they sent a strong signal to the Japan authorities that, if they do not surrender immediately and unconditionally, they and many of their citizens would be the next target. They relied on rational agents acting and making their optimal decisions behind the doors of the Japan government and the gates of the royal court. And they judged well, by sacrificing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war ended sooner... and more cheaply than if they had hit Tokyo and thrown the Japanese rational leadership into disarray first.

We have our friends to listen to our issues

On the other hand, both before and after the FIFA scandal erupted, another series of revelations and discussions shook public media: that of several leading EU countries discovering and subsequently complaining to each other and, mainly, to US for NSA collecting, with or without EU aid, surveillance data on the leading politicians of those sovereign, presumably, US friendly, states.

Whether the leaks of those actions were deliberately or accidentally released almost simultaneously with the FIFA scandal is not and may never be known. Also, whether similar NSA-led surveillance was crucial in discovering and fitting together the jigsaw puzzle of FIFA corruption is also not known but one can just guess that many of the corruption cases the US has started against many of the world businesses may have been, at least initially, discovered and then driven by extensive surveillance data and phone call recordings collected by NSA under the anti-terrorism powers they gained.

It may then just be contemplated, of course without any affirmative statements or finger-pointing however, that the FIFA (“Hiroshima”) bomb was, in a way, a warning to top politicians that they may be individually, orin some cases many, if not most, of their cabinet ministers may have been also objects of such surveillance and, as a follow-up,the risk of potential revelations of any possible unrevealed failings, in their private lives or not, that they may be falsely thinking were successfully hiding in their closets.

It is well known that keeping potentially sensitive or compromising information about a public figure may be useful insurance for the nearly unconditional support of that figure for the intentions of the information holder, especially after making sure that person is fully aware of the fact... and, of course, ...of all the potential implications of such information reaching the headlines, or, in some more severe cases, law enforcers like the US did by the example of indictmentand extradition requests for some of FIFA officials.

Hence, the set of the revelations and indictments, of course, only hypothetically, may have been serving their purpose simply as a set of such warning messages to the world politicians.

They then face a form of the so-called ‘Prisoner's dilemma”, well explained in economic and mathematical terms by, the recently deceased, famous mathematician, John Nash (well depicted in the also famous film Beautiful Mind), to either pretend as if it does not concern them and risk the full consequences of potential publications of any misdeeds of their past, or to cooperate and compromise the trust of those who supported them.

In some circles such messages to all those politicians may then be referred to as a “diplomatic” invitation to cooperate, especially to those who may have had doubts as to the benefits of cooperation by their countries but have also a bad conscience and may not want any scandalous or bad news hitting newspapers headlines and potentially overthrow them by means of newspaper cannons instead of the steel ones. In other circles that may be referred to in much simpler terms: as blackmail.