It looks like Christmas came early this year! A brand new series of pre-dawn arrests shook FIFA to its core in Zurich early this morning. Over a dozen FIFA officials were arrested, many of whom were hanging at the same hotel – the Baur au Lac – where numerous hotshots were taken into custody this past May.
If The New York Times’ Sam Borden is on scene, you know there’s trouble brewing.
The FBI has yet to release a full list of arrests, but it is reported that CONMEBOL president Juan Ángel Napout and CONCACAF president Alfredo Hawit are in the mix. Former Brazilian Football Federation president Ricardo Teixeira and current CBF president Marco Polo de Nero have also been named among those charged. (Seems like Blatter might have been saved by his 90-day suspension…)
Brazilian World Cup winner Gilberto Silva came out expressing his profound disappointment and demanding change in a particularly pertinent article published in The Guardian yesterday. In his opinion, “everyone who loves football – players, ex-players, managers – must stand up and have a say about this.” He goes on to state that it’s “time for a big change,” urging that corrupt officials be punished; “If I do some mistakes in my life I have to pay for it. Why not those people?”
Gilberto has been a vocal leader in the Bom Senso movement in Brazil, a group that seeks to force transparency and democracy in the Brazilian soccer world. He describes feeling threatened by elite officials, people who “just look down their nose, and see what is good for them. You have to fight against a big machine and you are very little.”
While the CBF is a monstrous machine in and of itself, FIFA truly is the cream of the crop, the massive machine par excellence.
“They just want to take advantage of the machine. We want a better game for everyone, not just for us players, but for fans, for clubs, for Brazilian football in general,” says Gilberto. The “better game” he speaks of is most likely in direct contrast to the one that we’re seeing dismantled before our very eyes, a machine riddled with bribery and under-the-table payments for television and marketing contracts over decades.