By Sean McElroy
Grant Wahl should become the next president of FIFA.
Now, of course, we all know that Wahl will not win. FIFA is the epitome of a monopoly, and despite Wahl’s good intent, it is all but clear that he will likely not even be nominated by a FIFA member nation, and even should he be nominated, he will likely garner few votes. However, I believe that American soccer fans should openly unite behind Wahl’s campaign. There are key things to be won here, and if Mr. Wahl is serious about his candidacy, I believe that he could have a positive impact on making FIFA into a fairer and more transparent organization.
Now, I would like to outline the three key reforms which I believe are the backbone of his reformist campaign, and offer you, the good readers of The Yanks are Coming, a direct plan of action for making Mr. Wahl the President of FIFA.
From his statements on his candidacy, Wahl is making three critical promises which he hopes will give him the backing of world soccer fans, a group he claims would elect him “in a landslide.”
- 1. Wahl would modernize the game.
Here, I think, is where Wahl could have a massively popular and positive impact on world soccer. FIFA is run by old fashioned, cranky assholes. Its like that crazy great uncle who refuses to use a telephone because its too high tech. To extend the metaphor a bit too far, while other sports show off their fancy iPhone (or Droid, if you must), soccer fans have to watch their sport continue to use the telegraph.
So, while other sports use technology not only to make their game more accessible, but to assist referees in the most difficult decisions, and this has ushered in a new era of fairness; soccer uses the same basic technology that was available in the nineteenth century, three (and sometimes four) pairs of eyes which do their best to keep up with an increasingly fast and competitive game. Technology should not eliminate this critical human element, but is there really anything wrong with using basic technology to tell the referee when the ball has crossed the line? That FIFA is so reluctant to even consider goal-line technology is yet another reason why we should embrace Mr. Wahl’s candidacy.
Wahl would also appoint women in the FIFA executive committee, as well as to appoint women to other important roles throughout the organization. This is an absolutely critical move, and one which I believe could attract serious support from many FIFA delegations. Women belong in this sport, and they belong at the highest levels of the FIFA organization. Virtually all fans understand this, Wahl understands this, hell even Andy Gray understands this. Their absence only hurts the sport, and the idiotic comments by Sepp Blatter about women’s soccer only furthers the case that he is an old-timer with no business running a modern sport.
- 2. He would release internal documents and clean up, Wiki leaks-style.
Now, as a college aged history-major who has a massive interest in politics and a very strong opinion about American foreign policy, I must first and foremost tell you that I know nothing about Wiki leaks. I have never been on the site, nor have I even looked at the articles on the Guardian or other major newspapers. I mean, doing such a thing would show both that I hate the United States of America, and that I am not reliable enough to work for the government. But that’s another story.
Wahl has promised to make public all of FIFA’s internal documents and correspondence. Likely, this would indicate many important FIFA officials in bribe-taking. Jack Warner, among others, comes to mind here. This would be a huge moment for FIFA, the outing of corrupt officials. For some reason, I don’t believe that those currently in power at FIFA really want to go through this process. This is why I believe Wahl will ultimately be unelectable—too many people who would have to support him have way too much to lose if FIFA documents are made public. Yet, I believe that this cleaning out would be incredibly beneficial for world soccer, and I hope that nations who have been wronged in recent times (I’m looking at England and Australia, among others) and those who favor free speech will support Wahl’s candidacy.
- 3. He would break up the old boys club.
So, with these three campaign promises, Wahl is basically agreeing to do what every American soccer fan wants. A Wahl-run FIFA does not give the World Cup to Qatar in exchange for cash, but rather weighs the options carefully to pick the best choice. A Wahl-run FIFA makes sure that there is a place for women not only in FIFA, but in leagues around the world. A Wahl-run FIFA, then, is what Association Football desperately needs in order to move a nineteenth century sport into the twenty-first century.
Yes, he would have a critical impact on modernizing the game, but there is something to be said for the fact that Wahl is an outsider. He is not one of the FIFA elite, and if he were to run FIFA, he would end the monopoly on the world game held by rich, elitist jackasses.
But what can we, as Twitter-armed, blog-reading (and writing) American soccer fans do to actually make this more than a crazy dream of Mr. Wahl to get traffic on the SI site and get him a few television appearances? I believe there are a couple achievable goals for Mr. Wahl’s campaign that we, as US Soccer fans, should aim for.
- The United States Soccer Federation should nominate Mr. Wahl, and at the upcoming election, they should cast their ballot for him. This would be an enormous step, and at the very least a nice middle finger at FIFA for their completely inappropriate handling of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
2. Wahl should openly attack other FIFA candidates, including Mr. Blatter. In addition, United States soccer fans should make their disapproval of Blatter known. I’m thinking big banners at upcoming matches, and articles in major American papers about the corruption of Mr. Blatter. It’s time to start attacking FIFA, for playing nice certainly wasn’t enough to get us a World Cup bid (or even a fair hearing, for that matter).
3. Finally, the United States needs to use whatever influence it has to make sure that Wahl has a fair election. The USSF has little power, but it is time to exercise whatever power they have to see to it that Mr. Wahl has a chance to become the next president of FIFA.
Of course, we here at the Yanks are Coming fully support Grant Wahl’s bid. We hope that you do too, and it’s time to start pushing back against those FIFA bastards. So, if you are going to a USMNT match anytime soon, its time to make some banners. Even more true for the Women’s World Cup this summer. Its time to make some noise, and do our part to influence the USSF to exert what influence it has to make Grant Wahl the next President of FIFA.
Sean McElroy is a staff writer for The Yanks Are Coming. You should follow him on Twitter, at @fulhamerican.