Monday, April 22, 2019 -
Print Edition

FIFA’s skewed priorities

fifa-logo-600x523FIFA, the international soccer federation, has recently stated that resolving the issue of Israeli West Bank soccer teams is a “priority.”

This is the organization that for years, decades practically, was racked with rumors of corruption. It was one of those cases where everyone knew it was happening, but somehow, they were still getting away with it. When Russia and Qatar were named the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively, everyone knew palms were greased.

It took the Americans to force the corruption into the open.

(As an aside: It’s reminiscent of the movie “Concussion,” which recounts the story of the Nigerian doctor who uncovered how brutal football was on players’ brains. Sometimes it does take an outsider to reveal that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.)

Last year, long-time FIFA chief Joseph Blatter was finally deposed. Corruption cases regarding $150 million in bribes are currently underway in several international jurisdictions.

One would assume reputation rehabilitation and repayment would be FIFA’s “priority.”

Another less savory aspect of soccer one might think would be a priority: ridding the “beautiful game” of the hateful racism that permeates its pitches.

Back to Qatar, the country that has no history of playing soccer, has no soccer teams and no soccer stadium — yet is hosting the largest single global sporting event. As they had no infrastructure, they had to get cracking building it. It’s currently facing legal action over its abuse of migrant workers getting theses stadia completed. Another “priority” one would think.

One might think that FIFA’s priority of the Israeli West Bank teams is a another example of the outsized focus world bodies have on the Jewish state. It probably is, in part. But it also goes back to Qatar. Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian soccer association. He has been trying for years to marginalize Israel and criminalize Israel’s soccer program. Rajoub is close with Qatari leaders. Qatari leaders grease the palms of FIFA leadership. Connect the dots.

If FIFA is truly concerned with Israel, perhaps their “priority” should be investigating why Israel plays in the European league instead of the Middle Eastern one. We’ll get them started: It’s because Middle Eastern countries won’t play with Israel.

Leave a Reply