FIFA's Recent Scandal Will Not Alter Association Football's Problems

The arrests in Zurich this week of some FIFA officials is totally embarrassing for Sepp Blatter and the powers that be at FIFA but actually quite meaningless in terms of actual consequences and real changes for the game itself for one reason and one reason only: FIFA's total monopoly over the game of Association Football since 1904.

Association Football (football for much of the world, soccer in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a few other countries) is organized like the Catholic Church -- with a Pope (in this case FIFA) lording over all the rules and the game's very existence. By doing so, it can excommunicate players, teams, leagues, countries. Only FIFA decides what Association Football really is.

Since the game has two equally important playing fields -- club and country -- and since both are equally important for all the players in the world, ANY exit from FIFA would invalidate a country's legitimacy and declare its players outlaws.

But as long as it is it is equally important for Cristiano Ronaldo to play for Real Madrid (club) as it is for Portugal (country); ditto for Lionel Messi (Barcelona as his club and Argentina his country) as well as other stars that fuel the popularity of this global game; they would never accept a situation where their country teams would become FIFA outlaws and thus their games not properly recognized as Association Football.

The big clubs in Europe have long ago ceased to need FIFA. They could have long ago bailed out and formed a league of their own and played their own game with zero loss in popularity and attractiveness. The only thing that has kept them from doing so has been the perfectly monopolistic position that FIFA has maintained over this game.

Were the European federations comprised in UEFA collectively to depart from FIFA and break away, and were they to play two tournaments in 2018 and 2022 APART from the World Cup, FIFA would be dead in the water. But the European federations are far from united to take such a major step thus allowing FIFA to continue its monopolistic dominance over the rules and regulations of soccer and thus the game's very identity.