Saturday, May 30, 2015

The FIFA corruption scandal and its geopolitical conundrum

No matter how you look at it,  politics have entered the sports arena and they did so decades ago.  No use denying it.

Jules Boykoff, former professional soccer player who represented the US Olympic Soccer Team in international competition, talks to TRNN about the recent upheaval concerning FIFA.
Video interview at link below.

JAISAL NOOR, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.

Football. The world's biggest sport, and also the most corrupt. Despite a massive international bribery scandal that's engulfed the sport, just moments ago FIFA president Sepp Blatter was reelected to an unprecedented fifth term. Fallout continues to grow after nine officials from FIFA, the International Soccer Federation, and several others were arrested as part of a U.S.-led investigation into a $150 million international bribery and corruption scheme. Blatter has maintained that he's innocent from the scandal, and has defied growing calls to step down.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the charges on Wednesday. Meanwhile, also on Friday, Palestine dropped its bid to expel Israel from FIFA for restricting the movement of Palestinian players. And questions are being raised about the role of large financial institutions, that they played in the corruption and bribes.

Now joining us to discuss all this and more from Portland, Oregon is Jules Boykoff. Jules teaches political science at Pacific University in Oregon. A former professional soccer player, he represented the U.S. Olympic soccer team in international competition.

Thank you so much for joining us again.


NOOR: So can you just, for people that--probably having trouble trying to wrap their minds around this growing scandal, and the fact that the FIFA president just was reelected to an unprecedented fifth term.

BOYKOFF: Absolutely. Well, for people who just follow soccer, the beautiful game, they've gotten a rude awakening at how actually there's a real ugly underbelly to the beautiful game. We've been seeing that all week long with these corruption allegations being leveled against FIFA, and this president who, as you said, has just won a fifth term in the presidency. And he's been involved in all sorts of unseemly aspects of the corruption. Though for the time being he seems to have insulated himself enough where they can't exactly press charges quite yet against him.

NOOR: And so this has been a front page story, as you've said, for this whole week. But what is the mainstream media really missing? What is not being discussed in the coverage that we've seen so far?..........

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