The most noteworthy thing about the arrests and potential prosecutions of the FIFA 9 is the level of joy it has produced. Something about working under a sign that reads in great neon lights, “VOTES AVAILABLE, EXTORTIONATE RATES, ASK WITHIN” brings out the inner musical in us all. Something along the lines of “Sound Of Music,” where they all play Max Detweiler, the character who says, "I like rich people. I like the way they live. I like the way I live when I'm with them."
The news that the Feds arrested nine of the allegedly besuited soccer brigands came as a stunner, though an ESPN report that FIFA head Sepp Blatter, who was not arrested, was afraid to come to the US served as a hint of the fun to come.
Here, though, is the sobering thought amidst all our glee; there shouldn't be a lot of hope expended on convictions, at least not if the defendants were as skilled at taking and paying money as it seems they were.
There is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that the FIFA 9 were at least apprehended, and even more that it happened in Switzerland, where they allegedly operated their bazaar of benefits in relatively open air. But satisfaction isn't the same as orange jumpsuits, as we have learned all too many times. There's something about the lawyers of rich folks who allegedly operate their whirlwinds in other countries that sobers those who hate typing words like “allegedly” over and over again.
Besides, it is not comforting to those who find a job well done over decades to be an inspiration to the next generation to learn that men so devoted over so many years to the art and craft of alleged corruption can have their work undone so swiftly. I mean, what is college, backscratching, sucking-up, influence-peddling and bribe-wheedling for if you can't use it?
Allegedly. Damn it.
These alleged devotionals to the art of massive graft-suck are to be admired for their sheer brazenness, and that brass is the defendants' best way to acquittals. The plea of "no we didn't, no we didn't, no we didn't, no we didn't" ad infinitum can be a compelling one when wrapped around skilled lawyering, and alleged corruption on this grand a scale comes with a boldness that defies the logic of normal people.
In other words, when "What if you get caught?" only results in the response “And your point is what, exactly?” you know you are dealing with people who believe they are, in vernacular, untouchable.
Well, they have now been touched, and it is only the cynic in me that leads to the feeling that the best we can hope for here is that they are made to sweat before they are freed with the thanks of the court for showing up every day rather than flying to a country that doesn’t extradite and showing us their bare behinds on Instagram under the legend, “Charge us with this.”
We are not yet at the stage where we can think this arrest will reverberate to the other powerful sports entities in need of a massive comeuppance -- your other international sports organizations, your powerful domestic leagues, Roger Goodell’s face, etc. They all need it, and badly, but you don’t get to think you’re bulletproof if the people who make and uphold the laws aren’t handing out free Kevlar vests to you every time you talk about bringing a Super Bowl or Olympics to your town. One hand greasing the other, and all that.
So our pleasure must come through the powers of schadenfreude, in knowing that the alleged FIFA miscreants can be made to feel at least some real discomfort before they go flitting back to their cantons in the Swiss Alps singing “I Am 76 Going On 77” on a road made of money they made by whoring themselves out to the highest bidders.
Allegedly, I mean. Damn it, I hate this story already.