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.
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.