Blatter, race, and status quo
It was really hard to care when I first watched the Sepp Blatter interview on CNN: the one where he said that racist comments made during matches should simply be shrugged off after the match with the aid of a handshake. In fact, it was so hard to care that I couldn’t bring myself to watch it again.
I watched a flurry of Tweets cascade down my feed, several of them accompanied by the hashtag “#blatterout”. I read of the despair of many people who couldn’t believe that Blatter was allowed to hold and express such views. But I still didn’t feel that welling of anger, that surge of rage that I usually feel when I perceive an injustice.
And then I realised: it wasn’t that I didn’t care, if anything I cared too much. When the body experiences overwhelming physical pain, it shuts down and numbs the affected area. I think this is what happened yesterday evening. I think that my sigh of resignation was actually something more than that.
You see, on one level, what Blatter said can be laughed off as the fumblings of an out-of-touch fool. “Rise above it”, etc. Except you can’t rise above it, and that’s the whole point. Blatter is the top dog. And in the knowledge that there was little if nothing that I could personally do about this state of affairs, my emotions helpfully numbed themselves.
Or maybe there’s another explanation for my apparent apathy. Sepp Blatter stopped making me furious a long time ago, when I began to understand his true value: not as the head honcho of the world’s most popular sport, but as a metaphor. Whether the issue affecting football is sexism, homophobia or, in this case, racism, Blatter pops up with uncanny regularity – a speaking-clock – to remind us of the true atmosphere at the very top of football. He is a metaphor for entitlement. Sepp Blatter is exactly what you get at the top of an organisation that is supremely unaccountable and sitting in a tax haven upon a multi-billion dollar nest-egg.
That’s why, strangely enough, I don’t think the greatest emphasis should be on whether Blatter loses his job. Because even if he does – which I think is unlikely – there will still exist the same ossified structure that made his career possible in the first place. I can’t see root-and-branch reform happening at FIFA, because the money is still flowing in from all corners of the world. And if the committee running the world’s most popular game is riding high despite a casual acceptance of the type of discrimination that continues to damage and destroy countless careers, then why the hell would they bother to change?Tagged in: FIFA, football, homophobia, racism, Sepp Blatter, sexism
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