Yesterday, the US Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security held a lengthy public hearing about the FIFA scandal. You would think this would have been a major news event within the world of American soccer. But coming just 10 days after the US women lifted the World Cup trophy and during the CONCACAF Gold Cup, a largely made-for-tv men’s tournament always held on American soil, The Gold Cup tournament has been the subject of alleged extensive corruption that seems to have been largely forgotten by the US Soccer press since the tournament began.
The reality of the FIFA scandal is that much of the alleged corruption took place on American soil, involved American-based entities and drew in American soccer officials including Chuck Blazer whom MLS Commissioner Don Garber stated in late 2011:
“Everybody who cares about the sport in this country owes him a debt of gratitude.”
Even at the time as someone who worked in the soccer world, allegations about Blazer were swirling regularly – I would hear them on a weekly basis. Last week, Blazer a self-described “soccer dad” from Westchester County, NY was banned from the sport for life. Blazer’s vanity was so great that he even maintained an apartment at Trump Towers for the exclusive use of his cats.
Unfortunately once the epicenter of the scandals shifted from Zurich and Sepp Blatter to alleged improprieties on American soil potentially involving or taking place with the knowledge of high-ranking officials in the game in the US, many of my media colleagues began to stop aggressively chasing the stories. While other events began to take precedence such as the Women’s World Cup, Steven Gerrard coming to MLS, Freddy Adu signing with the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies and yes that CONCACAF Gold Cup, the appearance just isn’t attractive. To many outsiders it looks as if American writers were more than willing to take on the story when it involved alleged corruption in the third world and among “fat cats” based abroad. But when the story began to have a major American component particularly centering around Blazer, attention shifted.
Perhaps a perfectly fair explanation is that once the FIFA election was over and then Sepp Blatter did an about-face and agreed to hold a momentous special congress, it was time to focus on other things. Or maybe, as it appears once things became too close to home, any diversion was useful. Whatever the case, the reaction to the hearings yesterday was largely muted. In fact some felt it was best to attack the Senators as “grandstanding politicians” (A laughable assertion when compared to some of the real demagoguery we witness on a daily basis as politicos) and to talk about the lack of knowledge the members of the Subcommittee had about soccer. Shots were also taken by some US soccer fans at Andrew Jennings, a British journalist who is asking questions about the role of Americans in the scandal.
I am proud to say that World Soccer Talk, where I serve as the Senior Writer has been the most aggressive and vigilant American-based publication chasing this story, wherever it may lead- be it unpleasant for those around us, or a perfectly innocent quest for justice.
You can watch the entire hearing below: