Five Reasons Why FIFA Is Not Like North Korea

It’s apples and oranges—really


Speaking to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, English Football Association Chairman Greg Dyke excoriated FIFA, comparing it to an infamous one-party state. As the Globe and Mail reported, Dyke was referring to a FIFA congress meeting in June, claiming it was “like something out of North Korea at times—hail to the leader.” This allegation is not only outrageous, it flies in the face of everything we know and love about our benevolent earthly soccer overlords. Here are five reasons why FIFA is not like North Korea.

There is no DMZ in Zurich

The border between North and South Korea is marked by a Demilitarized Zone—a frequent site of military flashmobs and breeding ground for interpretive dance. There are also millions of landmines. The closest thing to a DMZ in Zurich is the confluence of the Sihl and Limmat rivers, one of James Joyce’s favorite spots. The collision of two modest rivers—even if moderated by dam—might strike fear into those who can’t swim or are fundamentally opposed to artificial water diversion techniques, but it is no DMZ. At least not until Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini appear on opposite banks and shout passages of Finnegans Wake at each other. Then, I might reconsider.


Sepp Blatter did not receive 100 percent of all votes in his last election

2011 AFC Annual Awards

(Photo by Stanley Chou / Getty Images)

Never mind that both Blatter and Kim Jong-un both ran unopposed—the former because his only opponent, Mohamed Bin Hammam, was suspended following bribery allegations, the latter because, well, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said it best: “This is an expression of all the service personnel and people’s absolute support and profound trust in supreme leader Kim Jong-un as they single-mindedly remain loyal to him.” Blatter could only muster 186 of 203 votes cast. Kim Jong-un turned out 100 percent of the electorate and earned every single vote. Apples and oranges.


North Korea has problems with racism; FIFA does not

Uruguay v Ghana: 2010 FIFA World Cup - Quarter Finals

(Photo by Michael Steele / Getty Images)

On May 2, the Korean Central News Agency published an article (only in Korean) called “Divine retribution for the juvenile delinquent Obama!” In it, President Obama was referred to as a “clown,” a “dirty fellow,” and “a crossbreed with unclear blood.” North Korea’s “fundamentally ‘race-based’ worldview” is well established. Contrast that with Sepp Blatter’s progressive worldview in which racist remarks are on par with simple foul language and can easily be addressed with handshakes. He even started a “Say No To Racism” campaign in 2006, which continues to change the world. These efforts were recently showcased at the World Cup. It will be a great day when North Korea can stop hiding behind propaganda and instead hold banners with slogans on them for photographers and read statements prepared by their governing body at large gatherings.

Tim Roth has not starred in a movie about North Korea



Despite being a struggling non-profit organization, FIFA’s humble beginnings were brought to life by Tim Roth in United Passions, which debuted at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May. Roth has yet to appear in any North Korean motion picture, let alone portray Kim Jong-un. The film is a testament to Blatter’s leadership—steadfast and intrepid, despite the challenges of operating with a mere billion-dollar reserve fund.

Dennis Rodman is not friends with Sepp Blatter

But he is friends with Kim Jong-un. That’s not to say Sepp Blatter couldn’t benefit from an hour with the Harlem Globetrotters.