In one of the oddest weeks in international soccer history, 14 high-ranking FIFA officials were indicted and FIFA president Sepp Blatter was reelected for a fifth consecutive term.
Blatter, however, may not be in the clear – and for that, the soccer world has the U.S. Department of Justice to thank.
“You mess with American banks and you mess with the American banking system, then you got problems,” Fox Sports soccer analyst Rob Stone said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “That’s why all the great letters were involved (with) the IRS and FBI and AG – attorney general. That’s where it stems from. But yes, I think it also goes to the sense that America does care a little bit more than they certainly did in the past.”
But caring is one thing; taking action is another thing altogether.
“I got to be honest,” Stone said. “I’m shocked that it’s us that really kind of blew the lid on this one. There have been people in this industry for decades who have said we know there’s things wrong. We hear the stories, we see things. You just got a sense that stuff is crooked, floating around here, but there’s been no one really brave enough, big enough, strong enough to a) take them on, have the resources to take them on, and b) have some legit evidence, have that smoking gun. God bless the U.S. that we were able to step up. I’m sure there’s folks in England and France that were saying, ‘Man, I wish we could have done that.’ Hopefully they will be willing partners in continuing this quest of criminal activity – because I’ll tell you, there’s going to be a lot more names, nations and federations to be called out because the people that they’ve indicted, I’m pretty sure they’re going to be singing, and they’re going to be singing some tunes and some of the composers of that music are going to be in real, real trouble.”
Stunningly – or perhaps not so stunningly – Blatter was reelected this week despite the controversy surrounding FIFA.
“It was pretty close to (a) foregone (conclusion that he would get reelected), which is absolutely frightening, particularly to our American audience and I think maybe particularly to those that are kind of outside the soccer circle,” Stone said. “Because you look at it and what’s been splashed all over the newspapers and the radio shows and the television shows, it’s corruption and money laundering and bribery. These people have been implicated and these are lieutenants to the top guy. Surely things are wrong and crooked and there’s no way this guy could get elected, right?”
Wrong. Blatter was reelected – and it wasn’t even close.
“We all know it’s wrong,” Stone said. “But in the end, there are so many equally corrupt people out there who have power to vote him in and they want to make sure that they are still taken care of and they feel their individual needs will still be accommodated with Sepp Blatter in charge.
“This has been the strangest week in international soccer that I can remember,” Stone continued. “I think you have to go way, way back to even find a challenger to what has gone down this week.”