Corruption Isn’t The Only Problem At FIFA

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It is no secret that FIFA is corrupt and under investigation. With their election coming up in a few weeks 60 Minutes took the time to remind us just how bad and almost comical it is.

FIFA on 60 Minutes

The sad thing about this is that corruption isn’t the only issue facing FIFA. Sexism is a major issue as well.

Former President Sepp Blatter, who is now banned and under investigation in a couple of countries, once said that women could ‘have tighter shorts’ when asked on how to promote the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

FIFA has also been accused of not taking racism seriously enough. While it will implement racism monitoring at 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, many feel FIFA hasn’t gone far enough in discouraging the practice of racism in the game.

So when you see something about the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, or UFC just remember….it’s not as bad as FIFA.


John Oliver Takes On FIFA….Again

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

John Oliver may be a comedian but he is leading the charge against FIFA’s leadership. The same leadership that was indicted last week by the US Justice Department.

On the one hand it is incredibly sad to see the sport of football being led by such corrupt individuals. On the other hand they are providing Oliver with some great material. Can you imagine what would happen if he went after Comcast?

Lessons From Soccer

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

By now you have probably seen or at least heard about Paul George’s horrific injury during a scrimmage for USA Basketball last weekend. It’s an injury that will probably keep George out an entire season and one that raises the question, should NBA players be playing international basketball? Mark Cuban doesn’t think so. However players do it in other sports like soccer.

Paul George

While it is a very tough blow to George’s regular team, the Indiana Pacers, something like this could have happened regardless. It’s a risk that is taken anytime someone competes. It could have happened to George while practicing at home. Heck, the Buffalo Bills lost a key defensive player for the year as he prepared for the upcoming season.

International tournaments are not unique to basketball. The biggest international competition of all just took place in Brazil. Soccer players have been playing in international tournaments like the World Cup since the sports inception and most of the time they play qualifiers during their club teams season.

Some may say that a middle ground might be for NBA teams to have a say in which of their players can participate in international tournaments but there again you can find precedent in soccer. On occasion club teams do not release their plays to play for their country for various reasons. Most of the time it is because a friendly falls during the club’s preseason. From the club teams  point of view it’s a game that doesn’t matter because no qualification is on the line.

While George’s injury is unfortunate it in all likelihood will not stop NBA players from playing for Team USA on the international stage. Mark Cuban may not like it but it’s true. Other sports are able to pull it off and while it’s not perfect it does seem to work.

FIFA Chief Bashes MLS

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Sepp Blatter is the head of FIFA which is the world governing body of football (or soccer). He recently laid the wood to MLS in a recent interview on Al Jazerra TV. While Blatter has been the head of FIFA since 1998 and no doubt has a tough job he obviously has no idea about how to do business in North America.

Sepp Blatter on Al Jazeera

In North America, the MLS competes with the following sports for attention, space and airtime; NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL (When they play), College Football, and Mixed Martial Arts. That’s a pretty good set of competition. No other country in the world has that much competition and in every other country, except a few, football is the 800 pound gorilla. Not so in North America. That title belongs to the NFL or football as it’s called here.

Blatter said that it’s been 18 years since the US hosted the World Cup and still does not have a strong professional league. In that time the MLS was formed and launched. It has expanded to 19 teams with 14 of those playing in their own soccer specific stadiums. Another team moving into it’s own stadium in the next year (San Jose) and the 2 others that share stadiums with professional football teams (Seattle and Vancouver). These last 2 teams also rank 1st and 6th in attendance respectively.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber is a very smart guy. He came from the NFL so he knows what MLS is up against. He knows that MLS could not survive if it went to the normal FIFA schedule which is from August-May and competed directly with the NFL, NBA, College Football and NHL. He also knows, and has said in interviews, no one is going to go to a New England Revolution game in Foxboro, MA in January or February. They barley go right now during the summer (they are also one of the teams without a soccer specific stadium). MLS’s best bet is to keep it’s current schedule, take on Major League Baseball during the summer and the occasional UFC event.

Blatter does not understand that. He has a one size fits all mentality. While he wants the game to succeed he does not understand how to do that in North America. Don Garber does. We can only hope that Blatter takes Garber up on his offer to go to an MLS match the opening weekend of the season. The word “hope” might be a stretch here too considering that Blatter has dismissed the use of goal line technology, replay and has been accused of corruption charges more times than…well probably anybody.

But we can always hope.