Face it, it has been a very, very bad week for anyone who thinks that a) FIFA is a damn fine organisation run by guys who think football is the greatest game, and that they’d just like to do what they can to selflessly advance the sport they love so much and (b) that Saudi royalty are noble, hawk-eyed princes of the desert whose hearts are fierce, whose handclasps are strong and whose intentions are pure and (c) that US lawmakers are principled folk who want to do the right thing and advance the cause of free trade, because they think free trade is good for workers and good for America. Alas, the world seems not to be quite like that.
Only a few weeks ago, Diego Maradona said that FIFA is run like the Mafia.
How right he was. With the US now investigating FIFA’s racketeering and money-laundering activities and the Swiss also looking at the bribes that went into the choice of Russia and Qatar as upcoming FIFA venues, the capos at FIFA are taking the fall for the boss of all bosses, Sepp Blatter – who has somehow been blissfully unaware of the dirty payoffs and extortion rackets conducted on his watch, apparently in exchange for FIFA votes. Will the Swiss and US investigations
clean up the game for good ? Hard to see that happening when Blatter is set to be re-elected on Friday, and the FIFA circus seems set to roll on, regardless.
Closer to home, the Saudi prince got his payoff, too, apparently.
The Government has been accused of paying a bribe and doing dodgy deals after pouring more than $11 million of taxpayer money into an influential Saudi businessman’s farm. But the Government said the businessman, Hamood Al-Ali Al-Khalaf, could have successfully sued it for $30 million and it could have been facing an even bigger bill.
Prime Minister John Key has gone into what is his usual explanatory mode when caught out. First it was all Labour’s fault when they were in government and ANYWAY what was done may look bad, but it saved us from something worse. ( I’d be more inclined to believe that if Key had ever shown any ability – think about The Hobbit deal – to do anything in a negotiation with foreign powers but roll over and ask them to scratch his tummy.) Whatever, folks …just don’t say extortion. Think of it as insurance. And now having paid our protection money, what about that Saudi/NZ free trade deal?
Which leads us directly to the US law makers who recently voted ( in the Senate at least ) to give Barack Obama the fast track authority he needs to prevent the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal from being subjected to detailed democratic scrutiny. What a coincidence ! It seems that the lawmakers concerned had been generously rewarded – in a FIFA sense – with big donations from US corporates.
That vote, to give Barack Obama the authority to speed the bill through Congress, comes as the president’s own supporters, senior economists and a host of activists have lobbied against a pact they argue will favor big business but harm US jobs, fail to secure better conditions for workers overseas and undermine free speech online. Those critics are unlikely to be silenced by an analysis of the sudden flood of money it took to push the pact over its latest hurdle.
Money well spent, evidently, judging by an analysis of the recipients :
• Out of the total $1,148,971 given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 “yea” votes.
• The average Republican member received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters.
• The average Democrat received $9,689.23 from those same donors.
The amounts given rise dramatically when looking at how much each senator running for re-election received.
The world used to seem like a cleaner place…but maybe that was just an illusion. Somehow, it almost seems fitting that while de-regulation and de-unionisation has been busily recreating the work conditions of the 19th century …..that those who stand to benefit the most from this process should be looking more and more like the robber barons of the same era.