It is easy to criticize others; it is harder to look at one’s self and point out one’s own flaws. In the aftermath of the dumpster fire that is the FIFA scandal fingers have started to be pointed. Who caused this? Why is not enough being done to end this corruption? Why aren’t things being changed?
These are all natural reactions after hearing that one has been duped. Although many people who follow international soccer for years (whether as a supporter or a journalist) have known FIFA’s alleged improprieties for years there is still this sense of shock and a sense of anger. We want answers and we want to know who is to blame.
Let’s start with the easy one – look in the mirror.
While there are certainly far more prominent public complicit in these alleged crimes perhaps the one group that does the most damage is the one that knows the least.
As consumers, supporters supply the cash cow that is international soccer. We go to the matches, we buy the kits, we drink the World Cup-sponsored beer, we eat their terrible hamburgers, and we buy all of the ridiculous tripe that FIFA hawks.
Here is another way to look at this thought: How many people would be willing to boycott a World Cup to bring real change to international football? How many supporters are willing to avoid watching, reading, or buying anything FIFA-related or anything related to their national team?
There is a term that has been invented in recent years that seems to fit this situation: faux outrage. Any person with a Facebook profile probably knows someone who will write 6000 words about some subject that supposedly angers them.
They will type out their thoughts in a stream of words, maybe use a few exclamation points, and then go back to their regular lives probably crossing the same issue that purportedly makes them mad.
The FIFA situation is the same problem. For as many people that supposedly claim that they will actually stop watching soccer, stop going to matches, and be a martyr very few actually hold to what they say.
For as much as the alleged charges of financial misconduct in FIFA and the human rights issues in Qatar seem to bother people there are very few supporters who are actually willing to stand up for what they supposedly believe in.
It would be easy to claim that every supporter under this line of thinking is a hypocrite. But that is too simple of a way at looking at the current problem that football faces.
Not every person has hours in a day to pour through the FIF Pro Black Book, to watch every documentary on the worker’s right issues in Qatar, and to listen to the complaints about pitch conditions at the Women’s World Cup.
Some people are just simply not that cynical and just want to watch a football match. There are plenty of awful things going on in the world and it would be nice to just watch a game. Some of us want are kids not to be jaded about a 90 minute game.
But there are big problems going on with the international game. The people that purchase tickets for Qatar 2022 will be sitting in the stands where people died, where people down the street are living in shantytowns and have no hope of life improving.
This isn’t just Qatar and FIFA’s issues are certainly not limited to the2016 Copa America Centenario.
So how does one reconcile these feelings of anger and do something about these issues? Supporters groups would be a start. When people work together in groups change seems to happen at a quicker rate. This can be done at a local level but really has yet to be done.
Supporters of teams in the North American Soccer League should be rightly furious at their league for getting in bed with a company like Traffic Sports which has already plead guilty to money laundering.
They should be demanding answers from the league on why and how this occurred and be a part of the process to change how that league does business.
Instead nothing has been done. Now that is not necessarily a slight against the NASL moreso against the ho-hum attitude that U.S. Soccer has recently taken in this scandal.
While their government is busy building a case against Sepp’s empire U.S. Soccer seems to be content with waffling at Senate Committee hearings.
When Francois Carrard, the Swiss lawyer who will chair FIFA’s independent reform committee, called soccer in the United States “just an ethnic sport for girls in schools” U.S. Soccer said and did nothing.
It is easy to point the blame at FIFA and their cronies in Mount Zurich for all of the ills of football. But until the supporters actually show some temerity and back up their internet claims it all feels a tad hollow.