Secret Transcripts of the Middle East Soccer Argument
There is an argument going up and down the halls of power in Washington. No, it has nothing (well, not directly) to do with Donald Trump. Rather on one side are keen, hungry FBI agents and their Department of Justice counterparts. These police and prosecutors are usually clothed in dark suits, dresses with shoulder pads and black sunglasses. They spend their weekends competing in triathlons or running up and down mountains.
On the other side of the argument are the U.S. officials from the State Department. These diplomats wear bow-ties, tweed suits and condescending smiles. They spend their weekends going to art galleries or ancient Etruscan poetry slams.
US Diplomats as seen by the FBI
The fight between these two sides of American power goes – essentially – like this:
Monday morning. A corner office in a marble building somewhere in Washington D.C.:
FBI Agent (Rubbing his shoulder muscles from an injury sustained in a Spartan Race):
We have millions of pages of evidence gathered from across the world. We can arrest virtually every single corrupt FIFA soccer official and the people they did business with. We can clean up the world of soccer.
State Department Official (his wrist limp from lifting multiple cappuccinos and roasted asparagus sandwiches):
My dear man, you cannot just go and arrest people around the world. There is something called ‘national sovereignty’.
FBI Agent: Bullshit! In the last two years, we have arrested forty-three of these soccer scumbags and convicted most of them. They use American financial institutions to launder their corrupt money, therefore we have jurisdiction over them. We also have evidence on dozens of other soccer officials across Europe, Asia and Africa. We can arrest them all and clean up world sports.
State Department Official (looking over horn-rimmed spectacles):
My good sir, there is something called the “Monroe Doctrine”. It is named for the 1823 speech when US President James Monroe said that Latin America and the Caribbean were American zones of influence. Every single of one of those ethically-challenged soccer businessmen that you arrested live in countries belonging to the Monroe Doctrine. We at the State Department forbid you to arrest anyone outside that traditional line of power.
FBI Agent: I know what the Monroe Doctrine is you cheese-eating, surrender-monkey! Now what we want to do is arrest all those corrupt soccer officials in the Middle East. We have the evidence. We can show networks of corruption. We can show bribes. We can make up for the humiliation of 2011 – when FIFA awarded the World Cup to a bunch of Russians and Qataris in front of our former President.
State Department Official (going pale):
You are proposing to arrest some of the US’s key allies in the war against terror because they may have paid bribes in the soccer world?! You do know that the Middle East is where we station tens of thousands of American soldiers? And you are proposing to go in and arrest some of the top officials in these countries because they may have been a little naughty in the soccer world?
(Picks up glass of Perrier water and sips nervously).
FBI Agent: Yippy-kay Yay! Those camel jockeys are going to the slammer.
This argument in Washington becomes increasingly important as thediplomatic showdown between the Saudis, Bahrainis on one side and the Qataris on the other goes on.
The American Department of Justice and the FBI have evidence on some of the top officials in the Middle East and their misdemeanors in the soccer world. They have chosen not to press charges because of the delicate balance of international diplomacy. But watch the inter-play of the Middle Eastern diplomatic stand-off. Should the US decide to more actively play a role – the arrests for soccer corruption could begin of some very high-placed people …
On another note, I see that the Qatari-sponsored Sports Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) is hosting another snooze-fest of a conference. The only benefit to their conferences is that they identity the ignorant, hopeless and desperate in the sports integrity world.
The conferences – like many others in the industrial complex of sports integrity – are full of dull speeches where a herd of clichés wander across the rhetorical landscape looking for an idea.