By Finian Cunningham
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation
FIFA boss Sepp Blatter’s sudden resignation this week only days after being re-elected shows that the US campaign to bust the football federation over alleged financial corruption is probably going to intensify during the weeks and months ahead.
Blatter had been re-elected for the fifth time last Friday as the federation’s president. He had earlier brushed off calls for his resignation from the American and British governments, amid a storm of media allegations over corruption at the World Cup organising body. Now only four days after being re-elected, the FIFA chief executive is quitting, saying somewhat cryptically that he does not have a sufficient mandate in the world of football to continue at the helm of the organisation.
The dramatic bust in a Zurich hotel last week of FIFA executives is «just the beginning», top US law enforcement officials have warned. British authorities have also jumped on the bandwagon with their own announced probe into financial irregularities at the World Cup organiser.
With seven FIFA officials arrested so far and seven more indicted, and the US authorities vowing to pursue others in the footballing federation over alleged financial corruption, it can be anticipated that this scandal will run and run into interminable extra-time.
An ulterior political agenda behind the apparent American-led crackdown on the international footballing federation could very well be the desire by US and British governments to scupper the 2018 World Cup venue in Russia. Both the Americans and the British lost out when Russia won the bid back in 2010 to host the forthcoming quadrennial tournament, following last year’s event in Brazil. A re-run of the selection process would give the US and Britain a second chance to pitch their bids, and with a generated cloud hanging over Russia due to the FIFA scandal, they both stand a better chance of winning if it comes to a re-selection.
The sporting event is highly coveted, being the most popularly watched on the planet – even exceeding the Olympics. Billions of dollars are at stake for corporations, from construction, hospitality, sportswear and media. There is also the immense national prestige that comes with hosting the global spectacle.
A second, more important, political objective for Washington and its British ally is to augment their ongoing campaign to isolate Moscow over the Ukraine crisis. The West accuses Vladimir Putin’s government of annexing Crimea last year and they have mounted a barrage of economic sanctions on Russia seemingly in retribution. Washington and London have been most gung-ho among Western countries in pushing the anti-Russian agenda over Ukraine.
President Putin has shown no sign of weakening under this relentless Western pressure. Moscow denies any impropriety over Ukraine. Indeed, it accuses the West of fomenting an illegal coup in that country and of trying to use the resulting conflict as a way to destabilise Russia. Moscow has retaliated to Western sanctions by imposing its own bans on European trade exports and, in recent days, imposing travel restrictions on 89 European Union parliamentarians.
So, very plausibly, the Americans and their trusty British ally are using the issue of alleged corruption in World Cup organising body, FIFA, as a stalking horse to further get at Russia over the geopolitical tensions in Ukraine.
US law enforcement officials at the highest level – including attorney-general Loretta Lynch and FBI chief James Comey – say their investigation into FIFA will continue until all suspicions of corruption in the organisation are uncovered. This high-level US involvement in targeting FIFA strongly suggests a political direction being given by the Obama administration.
The concerted nature of the American corruption onslaught against FIFA also points to a top-level decision to go after the Swiss-based federation. The British government, from prime minister David Cameron to his foreign secretary Philip Hammond, quickly stepped into the FIFA scandal following the American lead, making highly unusual public calls for the federation’s president Sepp Blatter to resign.
Both the timing of the US-launched corruption probe – in the week of FIFA’s annual conference and leadership election – plus the way that senior American and British officials, not to mention the publicity of Western news media, have weighed-in to rebuke FIFA suggests that it is all part of a coordinated political campaign authored at the highest level of government. That, in turn, suggests that there is an ulterior political agenda behind the supposed criminal crackdown on FIFA, and that the ulterior agenda is the Western objective to undermine Russia.
Another measure for assessing the credibility of the US-led corruption campaign against FIFA is to put the alleged wrongdoing in perspective with other known spheres of financial corruption. Few people believe that FIFA is free from sleaze and dodgy kickbacks. With so much corporate advertising at stake and broadcasting rights for global media audiences, it would be naive to assume that large wads of money have not crossed palms with a wink and a nod.
The US authorities are throwing a book of charges at the organisation, ranging from bribery to commercial fixing, racketeering to tax evasion. It is claimed by the Americans that the corruption at FIFA amounts to $150 million.
That sounds like a lot of sleazy money, but this figure pales in significance to the amount of corruption and criminality attributable to Wall Street banks and other Western financial institutions. For example, British bank HSBC alone has been caught running tax evasion, money-laundering for drug cartels and other illicit schemes that is estimated at $180 billion – or more than a thousand-fold the scale of criminality alleged at FIFA.
Wall Street banks, including JP Morgan, are accused of massive, systematic rigging of gold price markets all in a shady bid to shield the US dollar value. That criminality, affecting the price of basic commodities and livelihoods for billions of people worldwide, is estimated to be in the order of trillions of dollars – or a thousand, thousand-fold the FIFA debacle.
Moreover, these same banks, along with a slew of other global names – Citibank, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Credit Agricole among many others – were all directly responsible for the explosion in toxic financial derivatives that made their executives multimillionaires but which led to the global financial and economic meltdown in 2008.
That meltdown – which persists seven years on from its inception – has resulted in millions of lives ruined from unemployment and the collapse of pensions and savings funds. Added to that are the myriad social hardships and crippled lives from the ensuing austerity imposed on the general Western public to pay for the financial catastrophe – a catastrophe that was deliberately and recklessly engineered by the major banks, hedge funds and other capitalist investment agencies.
As Michel Chossudovsky writes in his co-authored book, The Global Economic Crisis: «The meltdown of financial markets in 2008-2009 was the result of institutionalised fraud and financial manipulation. The ‘bank bailouts’ were implemented on the instruction of Wall Street, leading to the largest transfer of money wealth in recorded history, while simultaneously creating an unsurmountable public debt».
It is probable that generations of children to come will be forced to pay for the trillions of dollars of debt that was created by American and European banks, which have now been offloaded on to the public by governments in so-called «bail-outs». Make no mistake, thousands of people have already died from the austerity that Western governments have imposed on their public in order to pay for the corporate fraud, tax evasion, fixing and embezzlement that has taken place in front of our eyes on a massive scale in the order of trillions of dollars.
Yet in the face of this gargantuan, genocidal criminality not one board member or executive from the major banks involved in precipitating the global crash has been charged, let alone prosecuted or imprisoned. In fact, the Wall Street banking elite and their counterparts in the City of London are among the main political donors that helped to re-elect Barack Obama and David Cameron.
The belated focus of American and British authorities on the alleged wrongdoings at FIFA can thus be readily seen as both ludicrous and laughable when we compare that with the absolute dearth of interest by these same authorities in applying law enforcement where it ought to be applied – on the Wall Street and City of London banksters.
Obviously, then, the self-righteous campaign to «root out fraud at FIFA is just so much pious nonsense. The astounding hypocrisy of US and British authorities leaves one with the unmistakable conclusion that the whole media-driven campaign against FIFA is nothing but a self-serving and cynical political agenda. And top of that agenda is to score geopolitical points against Russia.
Until Washington and London governments go after priority financial crime in their midst, then anything they say about FIFA can be taken as very wide off the mark.