The man pictured above is Francois Carrard. He is the former Director General of the International Olympic Committee and is now the independent chair of FIFA’s Reform Committee, tasked to make changes within FIFA amid the corruption scandal.
In an interview, he gave this thoughts on how Sepp Blatter has been treated following the scandal and his beliefs on soccer in the United States. Hearing these statements, I’m not holding my breath that anything will get done in changing FIFA. The question now is, which of his statements is the worst?
“There is something unfair in the way he is treated. I say that with complete independence. We are in the process of pillorying him. Unfortunately, it’s always like that when somebody stays too long, the negative side gets noticed.”
“This man has been unfairly treated. And if we talk about corruption… I have the whole U.S. proceedings on my table. In the indictment, there is not one word against him. Nothing. Today I am not aware of any indication of corruption against Blatter.”
“I am convinced that there is a will to reform. FIFA took major blows, she is in deep crisis and I believe that all members have realised that drastic measures are needed.”
“On a cloud, you can advocate for reforms… but they will not necessarily be adopted. It takes knowledge of the “realpolitik.””
Okay, first of all, just because Sepp Blatter wasn’t specifically named in the U.S. Department of Justice’s indictments, that doesn’t mean he was Mother Teresa all this time. There’s more than enough evidence from previous situations to suggest that Blatter’s hands have as much blood as all the others who were busted. Second, since when does the head of a company not bear any responsibility when their company is the target of widespread corruption? That alone puts Blatter into a category that makes it okay for anyone to criticize Blatter, not to mention resignation and worse.
Ok, now that he has spoken about Blatter, what did he say about American soccer. Keep in mind that this interview is translated from French via Google Translate so it may not be 100% spot on, but it’s good enough to get the context of the interview. In this, Carrard is talking about his experience in the IOC corruption scandal involving the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. And the way it appears with his comments, he is stuck in 2002, or 1952 for that matter.
“The American legal point of view, the IOC’s case was probably initially more serious than the case of FIFA. Because it was about the Olympic Games in the United States. It was Salt Lake City, it was the corruption where it should never have existed: in the heart of Utah, among Mormons. Politically and legally, it was a shock. But for the US, football, soccer, does not have the same weight as baseball, basketball and American football. Over there, it’s just an ethnic sport (and) for girls in schools. In addition, the case involves only a few “rogues”, installed at the FIFA Executive Committee, which are filled their pockets on the margins of continental competitions.”
“The political fury was terrible to Washington. In 1998, we spent for “aliens of bastards who corrupt the Americans.” But this time, since soccer is not a true American sport, I can hardly understand – and I’m not the only one – why the Justice Department are always agitated to the point that the Attorney General hold news conference in New York. Crimes of this type in the US, there are everyday!”
If we’re debating on if his comments on Sepp Blatter or American soccer are worse, it’s American soccer hands down. In terms of his comments on Blatter, there is a slight possibility that Carrard is saying this as a means to not make Blatter upset and stay on his good side.
Carrard’s comments on American soccer and the state of soccer in the United States is just ignorant. He’s right that soccer “doesn’t have the same weight as baseball, basketball and American football,” but I’m pretty sure more people from the United States attend the World Cup for at least the previous two Men’s World Cups as well as Women’s World Cup’s. It’s also a country who just spent $1 billion on English Premier League rights and viewership rises in almost all leagues every year.
Just because the general public in the United States still doesn’t care about soccer, that doesn’t mean nobody is interested. There are 320 million people living in the United States, even our “niche” diehard soccer fan group outnumbers countries where soccer is viewed as a religion by everybody in that country. Let’s take Carrard’s country of Switzerland for example. There are a little over 8 million people living in Switzerland. Let’s assume all 8 million people watched the 2014 World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina. For a country that views soccer as “just an ethnic sport (and) for girls in schools,” 26.5 million people watched the 2014 Men’s World Cup Final and 26.67 million people watched the Women’s World Cup Final. I’m not trying to criticize Switzerland and insinuate that they don’t care about soccer but we’re past the point where we’re debating if Americans care about soccer or not. Past evidence shows that they do, even in non World Cup years.
Yeah, 26.67 million people watching “just an ethnic sport (and) for girls in schools.” This is coming from a man who is one of 15 people tasked to reform FIFA.I’m not holding my breath on there being actual reforms in FIFA. The way it sounds, Francois Carrard needs to reform himself to the 21st century before worrying about reforming FIFA.
NOTE: I used Evans’ translations in the Reuters article for comments pertaining to Sepp Blatter and used Google Translate for comments pertaining to American soccer.