It was pretty funny listening to FIFA boss Sepp Blatter ramble on the other day about forming an anti-corruption committee to help weed out lowlives in his organization. There are hundreds of comparisons and metaphors to insert here about the absurdity of it all, but I guess the best one would be it’s like asking the Mafia to head up an investigation into organized crime.
Blatter doesn’t have to look any further than the closest mirror if he really wants to stamp out bribery and corruption in the world’s most popular sport. The fact that six FIFA officials were suspended and fined in 2010 for various unsavory activities is just the tip of the iceberg.
In addition, recent reports have come out of Bulgaria and Colombia that accuse team owners of using clubs to launder money. This of course, is on top of their other daily activities such as match fixing, tax evasion, and illegal gambling. It looks like many of Bulgaria’s teams are owned by past, present, or future criminals and the U.S. Embassy sent a cable to that country’s government last year to give them a heads-up on the situation.
But greed and crime doesn’t begin and end with club owners. No sir, the players also have to get their fair share of money even though they’re not willing to earn it. It was reported that some Bulgarian pros were actually claiming on their tax returns that they made the country’s minimum wage, while in fact they were getting paid about 70 times that figure.
Over in England, a few clubs are stuck with unwanted players since they refuse to accept transfers to other teams simply because it means their wages will be cut. These players don’t want to leave their cushy jobs and huge paychecks behind even though they’re sitting on the bench every week or not even dressing. Their own teams don’t want them and it looks like nobody else does either because of the ridiculous weekly wages they make.
Some fans say don’t blame the players as they should take as much money as possible. But in reality, these guys don’t have any pride and don’t give a damn about their playing careers as long as they get paid. What perfect role models they are to amateur athletes and those who work their asses off every day for peanuts.
But screw the teams too. The people running most clubs throughout the world have more money than sense and it looks good on them when they get themselves into these situations. Club owners hand out long-term, asinine contracts on a consistent basis to players and managers who are nowhere near worth them.
Take Rafael Benitez for example. This guy is one of the worst managers in the history of the sport. In fact, the only thing he has managed to do is ruin two of the world’s top soccer clubs in the space of about two years. He was fired from legendary English Premier League club Liverpool in the summer and then for some reason was hired by Inter Milan of Italy’s Serie A.
He lasted about six months with Inter before being fired. But the question is: Why was he hired in the first place after seeing the complete mess he made at Liverpool? He took over Europe’s top team of last year in Inter, and dragged them all the way down to seventh place in the Italian league before finally getting what he deserved. Under manager Jose Mourinho last year, Inter won the Italian League, Italian Cup, and European Champions League.
But the problem with firing Benitez for being so inept is that the clubs had to pay him off to leave town. But it’s their own stupidity for giving him an unearned contract in the first place. Benitez will earn about 6.5 million euros not to coach this year since both Liverpool and Inter had to pay him off. He’ll actually be making more money this year for being literally useless as a manager than the top-paid, hardest-working manager in the English Premier League.
Some star players have also shown their money-grabbing ways recently. Who can forget Wayne Rooney basically quitting on Manchester United, only returning after getting a new contract. Some people are also criticizing the sport’s golden boy David Beckham because he’s seeking a loan move to England during the winter even though he’s under contact to Los Angeles Galaxy. Many people accuse him of being selfish, seeking a move just to gain selection to England’s national team and to earn more advertising deals.
The soccer world as a whole is getting so hard up for money that Argentina’s players are being sold off in record numbers to teams around the world, simply because they want or need the money. The news of an anti-corruption committee is a farce in a sport that’s starting to show its true colors, from players, to management and owners, as well as its world governing body.