Living as we are in the western world of the 21st century, those of us under 30 have missed out on viewing a massive dictatorship in action. We don’t have any personal memories of Soviet Russia, or experiences of Communist China. True,there are still dictatorships today- Libya, Iran and North Korea to name a few- but their media lockdown has made it difficult to get a real insiders view. It’s probably only with the benefit of hindsight that we see the USSR and Mao’s China for what they really are anyway.
But all this makes watching the goings on at FIFA these last few weeks all the more remarkable. As a football fan,it saddens me to see the depraved nature of it all. But in the same breath,it is rather fascinating.
Mr. Blatter seems untouchable- here is a man, who to take a quote, “moulds reality in the light of his purposes”, and how he’s gotten away with it all is quite astounding. When it’s time for an election,the opponent is soon discredited,embroiled in claims of corruption,silenced and,for now,vanished. Blatter on the other hand,remains in power,cleared of any wrongdoing, with four more years ahead of him. Even more astounding, at the FIFA congress, the vote goes ahead,despite protests from some of its own members. With only one contender,the two hour ceremony saw countries step up in alphabetical order, voting for Blatter or, er, oh yeah, Blatter! All hail supreme leader Sepp! Someone once said that the “absence of alternatives clears the mind marvellously”, but in this case, it simply makes the situation all the more mirky.
What does it mean for English football? Time will tell. Realistically, the FA and SFA have no choice than to stay with FIFA. Not only would it damage the future of the English national team (more than it is already!), but the damage it would do to the Premier League would send English football into recession. Will FIFA treat them differently? Perhaps not,but don’t expect that sense of drama we experienced during the last vote for World Cup hosts earlier this year… we aren’t going to see a World Cup in our country for a long, long time!
And to add yet more hstorical significance to the recent events, legendary foreign policy diplomat Henry Kissinger has offered to help out as a part of FIFA’s “ethic committee”. Now, admittedly, having one of the Cold War’s greatest individuals involved doesn’t look too much like a dictatorship, but we’ll see whether, in his old age, Kissinger can make a real difference or is confined to playing the PR role. Dictatorships were know for public displays with little backbone. Kissinger did help reform the IOC, so his record is not confined solely to global politics, but opinion on the man is also divided!
Kissinger once said that “every civilisation that has ever existed has ultimately collapsed”, and unless he, and others can make a real difference, FIFA show no sign of bucking the trend. So, even if you’re not into football, keep an eye on future news stories regarding FIFA, and conduct your own anthropological study of a totalitarian system!
PS. The previous quotes are also Kissinger- he comes up with some golden one-liners!