John Oliver knew it all along.
During the first season of his outstanding HBO series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the droll Brit condemned FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, detailing its bizarre history of criminality and corruption, and branding it a “comically grotesque organization.”Last week, seven current FIFA officials, as well as former vice president Jack Warner, were indicted by the FBI on charges of wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering—including allegations that they received $150 million in bribes. The same day as the arrests—May 27—Swiss authorities also launched a criminal inquiry into possible money laundering involving FIFA’s 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.
“It took the country that cares the least about football to bring down the people who have been ruining it. That’s like finding out that Kesha arrested a group of bankers involved in commodities fraud,” joked Oliver.
On Sunday’s edition of Last Week Tonight, following a week off, Oliver gave FIFA the business once more—particularly Warner, who allegedly tried to help buy votes with envelopes containing upward of $40,000 in cash.“The cherry on top of all of this was a video Jack Warner released just today where he suggested that this arrest was all a conspiracy, bringing hard proof in the form of a newspaper article stating that FIFA was trying to placate the U.S. by giving them an extra World Cup this year.”
The problem? It was a satirical article by The Onion. “It says something about how corrupt FIFA is that one of their ex-vice presidents could look at that story and think, ‘Yeah, that sounds like something they might do,’” Oliver said.
But Oliver wasn’t finished. He then took aim at current president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, who’s served in the post since 1998 and who, despite all the corruption charges being doled out, has thus far avoided being indicted.
“Blatter has previously suggested raising the popularity of women’s soccer by saying, ‘They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty…’ And it is rare to find a non-fired boss who would openly say, ‘I would like to make it easier for me to masturbate to my employees,’” joked Oliver.He continued: “No decision Blatter has overseen is more questionable than the 2022 World Cup being awarded to Qatar, because not only will the conditions be terrible to play in, but the number of migrant workers that have died in Qatar since the cup was announced has been staggering. A report by the International Trade Union Confederation estimates that the death toll of migrant workers has surged to 1,200, and there is predicted to be around 4,000 more dead by 2022.”
Not only was Blatter allowed to keep his job, he was recently re-elected to a fifth term as president of FIFA—news that left Oliver stunned.
“Come on! He presided over the worst fiasco in its history!” Oliver exclaimed. “It’s like a Sony executive green-lighting a sequel in the middle of watching Aloha. ‘This is absolutely terrible, and I need to make sure there’s more of it. We’ll call it Aloha 2: This Time We Mean the Other Meaning.’”
Oliver maintained that FIFA’s strange voting process for president made Blatter’s re-election “absolutely a foregone conclusion.”
“All 209 members of FIFA get a single vote for president, and a lot of those smaller members have a financial interest in keeping things exactly as they are,” he said, pointing to the fact that all members share equally in the profits of the World Cup, no matter the country’s size.
“The U.S. gets the same share as Montserrat, which a) isn’t even a country, and b) has a population of less than 6,000,” said Oliver. “So America, a country with a population of 320 million, gets just as much as an island with a headcount matching that of a slightly overbooked Caribbean cruise. That’s why, under FIFA’s system, leadership never changes.”“The problem is all the arrests in the world are going to change nothing if Blatter’s still there, because to truly kill a snake you must cut off its head—or in this case, its asshole,” he continued. “But if America keeps driving this investigation and actually finds something to indict him, I don’t think you would understand how much that would mean to every person on earth. The whole world’s opinion of America would change overnight. Let me put this in terms you might understand: If the Dutch somehow found a reason to extradite and lock up Donald Trump, you would think, ‘Holy shit! The Dutch are awesome! The Dutch are amazing! What a country!’ That is what is on the table for you, America.”
Since FIFA earned $5.7 billion from sponsors like Nike and Budweiser from 2011-2014, the only way for Blatter to be axed if he avoids indictment is for some of these big sponsors to back out and demand a regime change.So Oliver issued a desperate “plea” to the companies:
“I would like to make a plea to them tonight: Please make Sepp Blatter go away. I will do anything. Adidas, I will wear one of your ugly shoes. One of these shoes that make me look like the Greek god of aspiring DJs. McDonalds, I will take a bite out of every item on your Dollar Menu—which tastes like normal food that was cursed by a vindictive wizard. And I will even make the ultimate sacrifice: Budweiser, if you pull your support and help get rid of Blatter, I will put my mouth where my mouth is, and I will personally drink one of your disgusting items. I’m serious. It could be a Bud-Lite. I will even drink a Bud-Lite Lime, despite the fact that all the lime in the world cannot disguise the fact that this tastes like a puddle beneath a Long John Silver’s dumpster. But I will do it. I will drink one maintaining eye contact with the camera and say it’s delicious, because if you get rid of the Swiss demon who has ruined the sport I love, this stuff will taste like fucking Champagne!”