One thing has been constant since the last war. Under the banner of football, nations otherwise in strife and discord have come together, symbolically to represent the spirit of man and the ideal of fair play. It is the motto of FIFA, and it defines its importance. But like other mottoes, it has become a dead letter. FIFA is a corrupt nation, its ministers motivated by greed and self-importance, its president a tyrant by any other name. There are probably no lives at stake. Probably. But the humanity that the beautiful game is supposed to represent is being dragged through the mud, and we are all losers for that.
The art of the press conference, as perfected by Syria, Libya, and EgyptWhat is so disappointing about this affair is that no revolution seems plausible. In the spirit of fair play, sometimes the fair thing to do – the just thing – is to rise up and overthrow. This group of salesmen – for that is what FIFA is – will quietly endorse the incumbent president because it appears the least troublesome, and the least costly, thing to do. Representing a sport (that used to be) defined by never giving up, by playing to the whistle, and by heart, these men will keep quiet and capitulate. They will be ‘fair’ to sponsors, and to television networks, for fear of losing money. And the game, a game that once defined manliness in its activity, its sportsmanship, and its passion, will die a little bit more.
Whether it is war, oppression, or just sport, the indomitable spirit of people remains. At root, football is what it always was: a group of men kicking around a ball. The sooner we get back to that, the better.