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A brief editorial: Grant Wahl and the FIFA Presidency

(Rarely has FCearth made any editorial statements about our sport and its global leadership, but the statements below definitely reflect the views of our company on a day in which Sports Illustrated soccer writer Grant Wahl officially bowed out of the FIFA presidency race.)


The saddest thing about Grant Wahl's candidacy for FIFA President- recapped here in a great Wahl story about his last 6 weeks of campaigning- isn't that he didn't secure an FA nomination.  Even if he had, he'll readily admit he likely wouldn't have won. 


And it's not that the USSF wouldn't nominate him- even though the United States might've had the best rationale.  I don't know what Sunil Gulati's relationship is with Blatter, but even if most large FAs fear political backlash in nominating an alternative candidate like Wahl, Gulati had the most legitimate basis for nominating Wahl; he could have said:

"He's a passionate American journalist who really has no chance to beat you, Mr. Blatter, so we can make a good faith gesture to a raucous US fan base that has supported Mr. Wahl- after all, we are the country that started this whole "Freedom of the Press" thing- and since you have nothing to hide in how you've manipulated, er, lead FIFA these last 8 years, then you'll actually look like a champ if you applaud USSF's hopeless nomination of its own journalist."

And the saddest thing isn't even the saddest and most conclusive sentence Wahl - after immersing himself in the merciless FIFA political muck for most of two months - wrote this: "...an outside candidate is doomed to fail in the world of FIFA politics, where the old men in the navy suits have all the power."  In other words, even our brilliant and independent scribe didn't find a glimmer of hope.

The saddest thing is UEFA's apparent bloc plan of continuing FIFA's status quo.  According to an unnamed "official from a World Cup-winning FA" that Wahl met with, UEFA President Michel Platini (of France) plans to run for FIFA president in 2015, when Blatter has said he won't seek yet another term.  In the meantime, all 53 European soccer nations- representing the most powerful, collectively wealthy, and best represented FIFA region and a full 25% of ALL FIFA nations- is apparently paralyzed in fear of supporting ANY opposition to Blatter.

Fear. Leaders of soccer nations are utterly afraid of...well, themselves, basically, and would sooner throw away FOUR years (a full World Cup cycle, 2 Gold Cup cycles, a collegiate career, an absolutely critical time period in the era of digital media and political transparency) than do what's right and open up FIFA, saving it from an, abysmal legacy of corruption and secrecy. They would rather bide their time for a chance to continue the tradition of secret ballots, locked documents, mysterious payments and ridiculous leadership than make a change, ensuring that soccer's most powerful and global governing body maintains a laughable disconnect with what actually happens when 22 men or women throw a ball onto a field and play. 

I wish I could convince my favorite college journalism professor Ted Gup, former Washington post investigative report and author of CIA bestseller The Book of Honor, to dive in and report the hell out of what goes on in the clouded world of FIFA.  But more importantly I hope that Grant Wahl doesn't give up and that he, or someone with equal care for the sport, steps up to defeat the long line of stuffy suits that hold this office. 

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