This past week one of my neighbors was arrested by our Homeowners Association for accepting cash in exchange for allowing mere acquaintances of their son to attend his birthday parties. The HOA felt that this base corruption might reflect poorly on the neighborhood. Oh, wait, that didn’t happen. I got that confused with the fact that the U.S. government had several officials from FIFA (an international body governing soccer (or football in the rest of the world)) arrested for apparently being “corrupt” and accepting bribes because on occasion the bribe payments happened to transit U.S.territory. The parallels are uncanny. A member of a private group violated an understood trust relationship established amongst members of that group. An outside third party then felt it was incumbent upon them to throw that violator into a cage because, well, I don’t know why – it’s really none of their business in either scenario.
The FIFA members are accused of committing “crimes” that either have no victim (money laundering) or which are entirely internal conduct matters (bribery). Murder, rape, and theft – sure, feel free to get involved. But I fail to see how simple misconduct or boorish behavior rises to the level of a compelling state interest. The flip side to this corruption scandal that has so far gone unnoticed is that for every corruptor there is a corrupted. That is to say, aren’t the high ranking government officials who paid the bribes out to these FIFA officials just as culpable? That is precisely the area a state body should investigating; the corruption of its own members.
Corruption is not a crime. Corruption is a contract violation, or more specifically, a trust violation. Party A entered into a contract with Party B whereby Party B is to act in the interests of Party A. Trust violations typically occur when there is no unobtrusive way to ensure Party B is always acting in the interests of Party A. For example, if the electorate puts a politician in office to further the interests of the community but instead that politician accepts bribes and acts contrary to said interests, this would be corruption. Should that be illegal? Should that politician be locked in a cage? Or is it not a better solution for the electorate to “fire” them immediately and take back whatever gains he may have acquired? Likewise there can be corruption in a private organization such as a business, club, church or any other similar group. If an employee takes bribes to swing business toward some particular vendor, then the employer-employee trust compact has been violated. That is a dispute between the employer and the employee. If a CEO takes bribes in order to drive business in a certain way, that is a violation of trust between him and the board of directors and ultimately the shareholders. These are all strictly private matters.
The apparent open secret of widespread corruption by top FIFA officials is certainly nothing to cheer about – but it is not a crime. It is a violation of trust that harms the name of FIFA and thus by extension all who are members of FIFA. It is these members that should be pursuing their corrupt brethren, not the US Government. Some might believe that cities that lost out on World Cup hosting bids due to corruption are victims as well, but that is not the case. Such cities are no more a “victim” than is the loser of several men competing for the affections of a single women because the “winner” lavished the women with extravagant gifts. The recourse of a losing city is the same as the recourse you or I have when we discover someone does not deal fairly – refusal to associate. If a friend, associate, or business lies to us, then we can cut them out of our lives. Good riddance.
It is in the interests of FIFA to clean up its act. They may soon find that many cities will no longer trust them and will simply refuse to participate in future FIFA events. This will erode their market dominance and thus the price they can command for participating. If they don’t reform themselves quickly then this corruption will open the door to a new, and better run, organization that can take over FIFA’s role. However, the fact that this corruption has apparently been going on for well over 20 years suggests that perhaps a mountain is being made out of a molehill. We shall see.
In any event, the arrests this week should serve as a reminder of the overpowering arrogance of the U.S.government. They have in many respects taken on the mantra of the One World Government. It exerts its dominance globally both militarily and legally. It can establish whatever arbitrary rules it wishes and then enforce such rules with virtual impunity upon any person, anywhere on the planet at any time. Let freedom ring.