FIFA’s criminal complaint over World Cup bids would be good news, if it didn’t involve FIFA

Look at FIFA, all tone-deaf, expecting today’s announcement to be met with something other than skepticism and derision. The world governing body is seeking criminal charges against the Garcia report’s wrongdoers? Sure thing, FIFA, but who are these wrongdoers, exactly? Because at this point, Sepp Blatter could announce a crusade against child poverty and juvenile diabetes, and the world would scoff, “Healthy kids do make better slave labor.” Among our generation of soccer fans, FIFA’s reputation is FUBAR.

But if you read the AP’s brief report and FIFA’s Q&A (so kind of it to make Hans-Joachim Eckert available for the organization’s own hard-hitting questions), there are some signs of light. FIFA really is pursuing criminal charges with Swiss authorities, and while the still anonymous nature of the suspects makes FIFA’s motives easy to doubt, it creates a possibility: This might be the legitimate pursuit of some actual bad people. And when Eckert goes out of his way on FIFA’s website to say the investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids is still ongoing, he does so with the implication more substantial findings may lie ahead. After all, for all our hopes it would be a breakthrough, the Garcia report need not be an end point as much as the ignition.

MORE: FIFA’s institutional integrity doesn’t include protecting whistleblowers

But this is FIFA, so the people being referred to the Swiss authorities may the whistleblowers. Would you in any way be shocked? And given the organization’s history, future investigations will likely be as effectual as the messaging in Eckert’s meek Q&A. He can point to the limitations of the Garcia report all he wants, but until the public sees the information being withheld, skepticism, derision, and some justified paranoia will carry this debate.

Of course, there’s the option of not supporting FIFA, be it directly (buying tickets) or indirectly (supporting sponsors), but nobody’s not going to do that. At least, not in meaningful numbers. Tweeting’s easy. Not watching your national team is … well, that’s easy, too, but let’s just call it tough. Let’s instead take in today’s news, store it as lighter fluid, and wait for the next game that can overshadow our constrained #outrage.

The U.S. kicks off in Dublin at 2:30 p.m. Eastern, and FIFA’s still FIFA. We now resume your normal programming.


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