Career criminals have one thing in common; they always believe that they are smarter than law enforcement. Their other commonality is that eventually they are caught and prosecuted. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been erratic in his handling of players and player-related incidents, and he did finally get caught.
But he’s not alone. Sepp Blatter may not be a household name in the United States, but he is better known than Goodell around the world. He is president of FIFA, the organization which controls the World Cup. He is under fire for several improper practices. He was cleared from corruption charges by FIFA, but not necessarily by fans. He has been accused of collusion in the deaths of 997 Nepalese and Indian workers between 2012 and 2014 as they worked on the construction of the buildings to be used for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. In addition, European Soccer Leagues are suing him for moving the World Cup from summer to winter, causing severe damage to their scheduling efforts.
Nearly everyone who pays attention to the NFL or national news is aware of Goodell’s transgressions. It began with Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice. A surveillance film was released to the media which revealed Rice pulling the unconscious body of his then fiancée Janay from an elevator in Atlantic City.
After a meeting with the Commissioner in which Rice claimed that he described the entire incident, he was suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season. When a second tape was ‘suddenly discovered,’ Rice was seen punching Janay, rendering her unconscious. Goodell claimed he was unaware of the tape or the attack. Later evidence gave proof that Goodell not only knew of the details, but that the league, (Roger Goodell), had been made aware of the second tape before punishment was administered. Rice was subsequently banned for life from the NFL. He was later reinstated.
Investigation into the league policies regarding domestic violence were to say the least disreputable. Former wives and girlfriends of NFL players recounted numerous cases when the League ignored them and instructed the abused women not to talk about it or file charges. Goodell had attempted to continue with the same course of action, but he was caught.
Then came the Adrian Peterson case. Peterson was accused and convicted of spanking his four-year-old son with a wooden ‘switch.’ He said that was how his father punished him. Although the matter was settled in court, Goodell suspended Peterson for the entire 2014 season. A gross overreaction, which may have ended the Minnesota running back’s career.
The latest oversight by Goodell was nicknamed ‘deflategate.’ The New England Patriots were accused of deflating the games balls used by Tom Brady to make them easier to throw and catch in the cold weather. It happened in the AFC Championship Game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Patriots.
Adamant denials were provided by Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. The most vehement was from Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft.
Recently Colt’s management said that they had suspicions resulting from a previous game that New England used underinflated balls. This information came nearly a week before the AFC title game. The League, (Roger Goodell), refused to take action.
Goodell works for the owners. Robert Kraft and Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti are two of Goodell’s closest friends and biggest supporters.
FIFA is suffering its own serious problems, not because of domestic violence, or deflated balls, but because of money and suspected corruption.
Because Blatter made the decision to move the World Cup from summer to winter in 2022, European clubs demand reimbursement for the money they will lose due to a scheduling nightmare. FIFA has refused.
Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general was furious. He said that he knew the situation was not perfect, but that he stood by it. He not only confirmed that the European teams would not be compensated, but declared it a ridiculous idea. He said that there will be no apologies from FIFA.
Both sports receive billions of dollars in revenue; the NFL over ten billion each year by itself. The business of sports has created a situation comparable to governments. Corruption abounds as the only thing which truly matters is the bottom line; profit.
In the case of Goodell and Blatter, it’s an old adage: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
By James Turnage