The world’s most popular sport is still stuck with primitive leadership and bad decisions. A column by Richard Sandomir in the Times on Thursday says the 2022 World Cup – scheduled for Qatar -- might be moved from June-July to November-December, right in the middle of the world’s major soccer leagues and tournaments.
This wretched planning happened under the watch of Sepp Blatter, who is now threatening to run for his fifth term as president of FIFA, the world soccer body, next May.
Blatter is already in trouble, what with a former voting member of FIFA, Chuck Blazer, an American who lived very well on soccer money, reportedly testifying to American authorities about FIFA. I'm just guessing that Blatter will not be touching down on American soil any time soon.
The tainted vote for Qatar, quite likely fueled by payments to larcenous FIFA board members, was the fault of Blatter. Qatar promises to build air-conditioned stadiums in the desert, often over 110 degrees Fahrenheit, presumably with the “help” of migrant laborers, those that survive.
Now that Blatter has discovered the climate of Qatar in the summer – his lack of scientific knowledge could qualify him for the U.S. Congress – he is going to do something.
But as Sandomir points out – what we all have known for years – is that American networks have other sports, other financial obligations, going on in November and December.
Sandomir notes that it will be hard to get out of the contract but he proposes: FIFA “should make a deal to satisfy Fox, Telemundo and other global networks aggrieved by changing the World Cup schedule. And let the networks give any financial compensation to charity.”
What is missing is the economic hammer. What is missing is one aggrieved corporate leader like David D’Alessandro, who was once the head of John Hancock, a major Olympic sponsor. This is what I wrote in 2008:
When the bribery scandal hit a few years before the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the most prophetic voice from the corporate world was that of David D’Alessandro, the chief executive of John Hancock Financial Services. He basically warned the I.O.C. to clean up the mess made by the good burghers of Utah and the dozens of avaricious members whose votes were for hire — or else D’Alessandro would take his corporate sponsorship away from the Olympics faster than you can say, “On your mark, get set, go.”
D’Alessandro was not being moralistic, he said. He was merely protecting his company. He has since moved on from John Hancock. Someday the Olympics might find another visionary leader from corporate America. It’s not impossible.
D’Alessandro forced the International Olympic Committee to find a new leader of the host committee – a Boston guy named Mitt Romney, you may have heard of him, who did a good job. And right through the 2004 Summer Games, as long as he was running John Hancock, D’Alessandro put pressure on the Olympic movement.
What FIFA needs right now is a corporate leader like David D’Alessandro to tell Blatter that he can no longer subsidize an operation as erratic and secretive and dishonest as his. There are still six months left to force Sepp Blatter out.
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)