US probe turns Blatter into symbol of resistance to Western meddling
RT:Sepp Blatter came under unprecedented pressure ahead of the vote from football chiefs and from many media outlets. After this campaign are you surprised by the results?
John Wight: Not at all, unwittingly the US and its allies have turned Sepp Blatter into a symbol of resistance to the untrammeled power of the West and their transparent attempt to seize control of one of the few international institutions that remains truly independent.
And allegations of corruption with FIFA are undoubtedly a serious matter, but far more serious is the clear corruption of international law and all norms of international diplomacy in the way the US has prepared this indictment and organized the arrest of non-US nationals in Switzerland.
And just imagine for a moment if Russia or China had organized arrests of this type. The international backlash would have been off the scale.
So in their attempt to seize control of FIFA and to have Russia stripped of the 2018 World Cup, surprise, surprise… immediately after the arrest took place, these calls came out all throughout Europe, with the call for England to be given the 2018 World Cup instead. They’ve turned Sepp Blatter into a symbol of resistance to their arrogance, because this is not the long arm of US justice we have seen at work here, this is the long arm of US imperialism, and this vote comes as a strong rebuke to that, and it’s a good thing too.
RT:You mentioned England, but why did David Cameron have to weigh in on this?
JW: This has undoubtedly become a political issue. Indeed a geopolitical issue. And it’s clearly been set up to organize the postponement of today’s FIFA congress, and if not its postponement to affect the resignation of Sepp Blatter, or his defeat in the election, which he subsequently won. So this has become a political issue, it’s not about world football anymore and it’s not about corruption, it’s about geopolitics, and this is why David Cameron and other world leaders have weighed in with their demands for Sepp Blatter to resign.
RT:Why did Asia and Africa largely vote for Blatter? Why is he the favorite in that part of the world?
JW: Because they have benefitted enormously during Sepp Blatter’s time at the helm. Football in those parts of the world would not function without the support of FIFA and Sepp Blatter has been a champion of those regions of the world. Helping young people, helping their countries develop their football programs and their tournaments. And that’s why they give him the support that they have.
They understand that this is one of the few institutions that still remains truly independent of the West and every other institution that is in control of the West is measured in the suffering of those continents, whether its economic, political or cultural. This is why they support Sepp Blatter; he has been a champion of football in these underdeveloped regions of the world, and that can only be positive thing. Unfortunately, in the West it’s not seen that way.
RT:The vote may be over, but the corruption probe and the investigation into the World Cups in Russia and Qatar are in full swing. What do you expect to come out of that then?
JW: I don’t expect them to go anywhere. This entire process has been corrupted, so I don’t think that they can reasonably expect justice to be served on this basis. Because what we’ve been given here is a lesson on the way power operates in the world. The US has the right to police the entire world and this has been an absolute disaster for them. And it has backfired. So I don't think any attempts to have the World Cup removed from either Russia or Qatar will succeed. They may have succeeded at some point, but this is not to go the way about it. It is absolutely disgraceful and it speaks of tremendous arrogance on the part of the US and its allies.
RT:What happens now to Blatter as a leader? How do you think he can change people's perceptions of him?
JW: He has obviously been personally affected by the events in the last few days. But what has happened is now a strong divide around FIFA and around his leadership, which has achieved nothing but a separation where they needed unity. Indeed any allegations of corruption must be investigated thoroughly. But it must be in a transparent and just way. This is not justice we have seen take place. And they have turned Sepp Blatter into a symbol of resistance to US power and its attempt to bully the legal process and international law. And it is just one example in many that we have seen in this regard over many years. So they have solidified Sepp Blatter's position and they have certainly solidified Russia's position and Qatar position as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.
RT:Why is the US taking the leading role in the probe into the affairs of what is an international body?
JW: Well in the US soccer is a growing sport. It is the most popular sport played among kids in the US. And of course the US lost the bid for the 2022 World Cup. So I wonder if it had anything to do with their motives in seeking the arrests of these officials. There is massive, massive money involved in the World Cup. It is the biggest sporting event in the entire world, with huge advertising revenues, huge television revenues. And any country that wins the right to host a World Cup can expect bonanza in terms of money and the growth in the economy. So every country wants to host the World Cup. But it has to be fair. And the US has held the World Cup in 1994. Sepp Blatter has been very instrumental to make sure the World Cup moves around the world, so one part of the world doesn’t enjoy the benefits of World Cup to the detriment of others. And this is to his great credit. So the US, I think, wants to seize control of FIFA, one of the few, as I've said, truly independent, international institutions. And those who say that sports and politics don't mix, well I think they have a reason to think again given the events of this past week.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.