Sunday, May 31, 2015

FIFA, corruption and global federalism

Given how much we like soccer, the industry could generate much more money than today, although it already generates a lot. If clubs, leagues and federations manage to overcome the appropriability problem (by which we can experience a lot of the soccer experience for free), and if large countries such as China, the US and Indonesia become more attracted to the game, the size of the market could double in the next ten years, according to the specialized press. That is what  makes it urgent to fight corruption at FIFA and its component federations. However, it is difficult to see that the current drive is going to be successful. As Financial Times journalist Simon Kuper has been arguing, today FIFA officials have basically cut their dependence from western democratic markets, and have based a system of power on relationships with the likes of Vadimir Putin and non-democratic rich governments such as Qatar’s. FIFA is an example of a private governance organization, providing very valuable global public goods: the rules of the most unified sport in the world, and the schedule of interrelated tournaments (from national club leagues to international country competitions). FIFA is a global unregulated monopoly. Without a federal global regulator it will continue to be so. The US courts can be a partial substitute, but they have only a certain amount of power. Meanwhile, Blatter can continue his rule at the top for some more years (he just announced that he will not seek a new period, but he will remain until a new president is found) after 34 as secretary general or president. And representatives from national federations will keep fighting to have a picture taken with him.

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