Streetwise Professor

May 29, 2015

The US Nails Fifa, But It’s Putin Who Howls

Filed under: Politics,Sports — The Professor @ 5:56 am

Wednesday’s indictments of Fifa board members and others generates a great deal of schadenfreude. Fifa is a corrupt and loathsome institution, and it’s about time for its comeuppance. Hopefully the IOC will get its soon as well.

There is much comic gold to mine here. One nugget is Fifa president Sepp Blatter’s statement that it was he would lead the effort to restore Fifa’s reputation:

“We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time,” Mr. Blatter said. “If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it. But it must also fall to me to be responsible for the reputation of our entire organization, and to find a way to fix things. [Note to Sepp: We know very well you are a fixer, but not in the way you use the term.]

We cannot allow the reputation of FIFA to be dragged through the mud any longer. It has to stop here and now.

Yeah. That we police ourselves thing worked so well with the Garcia Report.

Another hilarious aspect of this is that the decidedly un-athletic American who became an informant, the improbably named Chuck Blazer, who motors between huge meals on a scooter, looks like Mr. Creosote in the flesh. Don’t give him a mint!

But by far the best part of this is watching Vladimir Putin totally lose his sh*t over the arrests, and the parallel Swiss investigation of the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia (as well as the 2022 WC to Qatar):

President Vladimir V. Putin sought to transform the burgeoning scandal over corruption in soccer’s international governing body into an extension of the confrontation between Russia and the West on Thursday, accusing the United States of global overreach while invoking the fates of Edward J. Snowden and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder.

Most world leaders remained mum, apparently waiting for more details to emerge, but Mr. Putin went on the offensive immediately.

He used the moment to again portray Russia as under siege — in this case threatened with the humiliating loss of the right to host the 2018 World Cup, a move considered unlikely.

Mr. Putin called the arrests of top FIFA officials in Zurich on Wednesday “another blatant attempt by the United States to extend its jurisdiction to other states,” according to a transcript of an overnight news conference posted on the Kremlin website. Mr. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified information about global surveillance programs, and Mr. Assange, whose website published United States military and diplomatic documents, have both eluded American prosecution by taking refuge in other countries.

Note to VVP: idiots who use American banks to launder money and arrange corrupt transactions on American soil are most decidedly in the jurisdiction of the US.

But come to think of it, it’s precisely the fact that Putin knows that all too well which explains his howling like a scalded cat. It hits very close to home. It demonstrates a  vulnerability of which he is all too aware of, and neuralgic about.

Putin also conveniently overlooks the fact that it is the Swiss who have announced that they are examining specifically the awarding of the World Cup to Russia. The US said nothing about that, and indeed, the US embassy in Moscow said the indictments have nothing to do with Russia, so cool your jets, Vlad. Though, of course, Attorney General Lynch’s statement that the investigation is not over clearly looms over Putin and Russia. But the fact that the Swiss are involved makes it harder to make this a purely evil American plot.

It’s also hilarious to see that Gazprom assured Fifa that it would not terminate its sponsorship. So good to know that Fifa still lives up to Gazprom’s high standards for corruption.

Putin’s raising the issue of the “persecution” of Snowden and Julian Assange is also beyond parody. For Putin to credit Snowden as a hero for revealing secrets nearly simultaneously with Russia’s passing a law that makes information regarding the deaths of Russian servicemen on “special operations” during peacetime a state secret is particularly outlandish. To defend  the Pale One at anytime is bizarre. (Perhaps Vlad sees his fate when he looks at Assange-hiding out in a friendly embassy, dependent on a sun lamp for his Vitamin D.)

The statements of the Russian sport minister are also amusing. “We have nothing to hide.” (Who said you did? And if you have nothing to hide, why did you destroy the rented computers on which contained all of the Russian bidding committee’s correspondence and work product?)

The best: “I see no threat to Russia.”

If this is no threat, why is Putin freaking out? His over the top reaction betrays a deep fear that Russia and everyone involved in the WC bid, including Roman Abramovich and Putin himself) will be implicated. So many people arrested have an incentive to sing like birds. So many computers to search (including Fifa’s, which the Swiss are doing presently).

I am actually somewhat surprised at Putin’s reaction. He has been rather relaxed lately. The old cockiness has returned. The insecurity and paranoia of late-2014 and early-2015 had apparently vanished. He would have been much better off had he played this cool, and ignored the issue altogether. By making such a big deal out of it he looks guilty as hell. Which he doubtless is, but he could have fooled a lot more people had he just blown this off. A public fit screams a deep concern that he indeed very much has something-or somethings-to hide.

The next weeks and months should be rather enjoyable, watching  Blatter and Putin rant and squirm. And maybe, in the end, the world’s football-I mean soccer!-fanatics will be spared the torture of visiting Russia in 2018.

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  1. Tony Blair and Sepp Blatter should swap jobs.

    Blatter of Qatar knows all about cutting deals in the Middle East and could hardly do worse than Blair as Middle East peace envoy.

    Tony wrote the book on taking bribes and kickbacks while staying out of jail. So he’d be the continuity choice for FIFA.

    It’s a win-win. Now if we could find a way for Putin to do, as you say, an Assange i.e. incarcerate himself indefinitely, we’d be in great shape. Assange, really. What an A-hole. How long does he expect to stay in the Ecuadorean embassy? How does he think he gets out? What does he do for pussy, to which as we know he feels entitled?

    Comment by Green as Grass — May 29, 2015 @ 6:37 am

  2. No question that Pukin absolutely fears losing the World Cup.

    2 additional things:

    – Putler is a sovok. Sovoks live and die by propaganda. Reality is not based on facts, but on whatever the Kremlinoid thugs pronounce from the heights. “Eemedge” is very very important to Putler and sovoks. The World Cup is being used by Putler for the Russian people to assure them that “Rasha is strong.” Hence, an additional reason for Putler’s panic and fear of losing the World Cup.

    – I hope that Rasha does indeed lose the World Cup. Every time Rasha puts on a show, they slaughter thousands and thousands of stray dogs. They use horrible poisons, and mobile crematoriums, just like they are using for dead Russian soldiers – oops, “non-soldier tourists” – in Ukraine. For the most part, the stray dogs are no bother to anyone, and people even take care of them.

    I hope that someone sticks Putler and his Kremlinoid thugs in a mobile crematorium.

    Comment by elmer — May 29, 2015 @ 8:23 am

  3. I am wondering if the real target of the U.S. is Blatter, and they’ll apply their tried-and-tested technique of threatening each subordinate with 700 year sentences unless they cop a plea and dob in the big boss. One or more of them must have something on Blatter, and I suspect the U.S. knows this. It is utterly pointless to arrest the subordinates and leave Blatter in his position unless there is a plan to roll him up with the testimony of others.

    Comment by Tim Newman — May 29, 2015 @ 2:47 pm

  4. @Tim-You are definitely right that SOP for the DOJ is to start with the lower-level crooks and coerce them into rolling on those above them. I am sure that will happen here, and that it might not stop at Blatter. It might also go to those who paid the bribes, including foreign officials, and might I suggest, Roman Abramovich, who was deeply involved in the Russian 2018 bid. No doubt the Russians and Qataris worked through many cutouts, but with assiduous work, pressure applied to those already arrested, and access to computers of those who may not have been so exhaustive in their precautions as the Russians, they could well get back to the ultimate sources.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 29, 2015 @ 3:28 pm

  5. > Fifa still lives up to Gazprom’s high standards for corruption

    LOL, they wish. FIFA cannot dream of coming anywhere close to Gazprom standards for corruption.

    Comment by Ivan — May 29, 2015 @ 3:31 pm

  6. This is too fucking funny: Putin just ordered all Russian bureaucrats to hand over to the presidential administration any presents they might receive. What ever happened to that Super Bowl ring? Or is it a desperate attempt to replenish hard currency reserves with proverbial suitcases full of dollars.

    Comment by Ivan — May 29, 2015 @ 4:39 pm

  7. На воре шапка горит

    Comment by ETat — May 31, 2015 @ 11:03 am

  8. Не ешьте желтый снег

    Comment by Green as Grass — June 1, 2015 @ 8:41 am

  9. I think he is howling so loudly because these kinds of things wound him psychologically. Just like the Ukrainian revolt and the street protests back in 2011. Because it reminds him of how vulnerable he is despite all that propaganda. I actually hope they dont get stripped of the WC, thats billions more of hard currency to be stolen and when Russia crashes and burns in the group stages it will be as satisfying as when the Russian hockey team failed at Sochi.

    Comment by d — June 1, 2015 @ 10:59 pm

  10. So funny-Russian root adjective (блат) for a name and an occupation. Kind of like a Shoemaker that makes shoes.

    Comment by pahoben — June 3, 2015 @ 4:06 pm

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