FIFA Scandals are Worse than Bribes

5 Jun



Lost in the heavy clouds cast by the spectacular FIFA corruption disclosures climaxing so far with the resignation of its compromised president, Sepp Blatter, is a worse scandal of racist discrimination that has so far been flying beneath the media radar. Blatter, with customary wheeling and dealing, did his best to protect Israel from long standing Palestinian grievances—physical harassment of Palestinian players and teams by long delays and arbitrary restrictions on movement, an indulgent attitude toward the hateful baiting by Beitar Jerusalem threateningly yelling ‘death to the Arabs’ as a warning to Palestinian players, and inclusion of teams from the unlawful settlements competing in Israel soccer leagues violating FIFA’s own rules. The Palestinian Soccer Association was persuaded by Blatter to drop its charges, with a renewal of previously empty pledges to ameliorate conditions confronting Palestinians coupled with a surely ironic plea to keep ‘politics’ from intruding on ‘the beautiful game.’ As if the humiliations and constraints imposed on the Palestinian teams were not political!


Without recounting the details, I would make reference to three assertions that are markers for the moral imagination in relation to this provocative interplay of sport and politics in situations of acute oppression and criminality. The first assertion is by the mild mannered president of the Palestinian Soccer Association, Jabril Rajoub: what Palestinians face is worse than what South African blacks faced in the apartheid era—“There they wanted them to be slaves. But here in Palestine, they don’t want us to be.” [quoted in Rudi Rodoven, “Palestinian Soccer Association Drops Effort to Suspend Israel from FIFA,” NY Times, May 29, 2015] Whether there is objective confirmation of such an attitude or not on the Israeli side, this Palestinian subjectivity is widely experienced, and is certainly confirmed

by the tactics and language of right-wing Israelis who increasingly control the political and moral space in the country. There is much public and legal attention right given to establishing genocidal intent, but rarely is there notice paid to the ways acute oppression and racism is experienced by the victimized community.


Mr. Rojoub’s cry of torment reminded me of Audre Lorde’s poem, ‘Litany for Survival’ that was frequently quoted a year ago in the days after the Ferguson killing of Michael Brown to express a similar subjectivity prominent among African-Americans. Counseling her people to speak their true feelings even if it produced angry pushback, the last lines of Lorde’s poem resonate with those anguished words of Jabril Rajoub quoted above:

and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard

nor welcomed
but when we are silent we are still afraid

So it is better to speak remembering
we were never meant to survive

It is a sad truth confirmed over and over again in tragedy after tragedy that those who are dispossessed, subjugated, and displaced are never meant to survive, and thereby finally erased altogether from the consciousness of those who do the dispossessing, subjugating, and displacing. It took a strong dose of revisionist history to challenge generations of delusion that allowed children in America to celebrate Columbus Day without pausing to wonder what tears flowed in native American communities that were never meant to survive.


From such a reflection, the mind moves without pause to the sentiments often captured in early self-serving Zionist musings about ‘a country without a people for a people without a country.’ Perhaps the most memorable formulation was that of Chaim Weizman in 1914 at the World Zionist Congress: “..there is a country which happens to be called Palestine, a country without a people, and on the other hand, there exist the Jewish people, and it has no land. What else is necessary than to fit the gem into the ring, to unite this people with this country?” Remember that such malicious falsehoods were uttered long before the name of Hitler was even known, much less Naziism or the Holocaust experienced. This assertion was made even a few years before the infamous Balfour Declaration alerted the world to British colonial support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. It is worth noting that Palestine was inhabited at the time by well over a half million Palestinian Arabs, of whom less that 7% were Jews, and many of these were then opposed to the Zionist project as disruptive of their mostly calm co-existence with the Arab majority.


What do these three laconic reflections on the relations between perpetrators and victims tell us? As Rajoub implies, the presence of the slave, however much abused, is wanted, even deemed necessary, as the prevailing social and economic arrangements depend on such exploited labor. As the unfolding South Africa overcoming of apartheid disclosed, at some point, because there is a deformed kind of mutuality between master and slave, when the underlying balance shifts, a previously unimaginable accommodation abruptly becomes attainable.


But when the primary stake is land, not labor, then erasure is the goal of the perpetrator and the justifiable fear of the victim is extinction, or at least, exclusion. Fortunately, in our modern world these polarized subjectivities are not acted out to their full extreme except in the most monstrous of scenarios such as the fate that befell European Jewry in the period of Nazi hegemony. Yet even if not literalized there are objective consequences of the illusion that the other doesn’t exist or should be induced quietly to disappear. In the emergence of Israel, the Zionist momentum shifted the site of struggle from the imaginary of emptiness to the battlefields of dispossession inflicting the traumas of the nakba and naksa, and without an end in sight.


What has so far been distinctive, even inspirational, about Palestinian perseverance is their refusal to leave the historical stage despite enduring a long litany of unspeakable abuses that would have broken the will of many peoples. We cannot know the future by peering through such ‘a glass darkly,’ but more and more people throughout the world are becoming aware that solidarity with the ongoing Palestinian struggle for political oxygen is the most salient and compelling moral cause of our time.


In the aftermath of Netanyahu’s electoral victory in March David Shulman writes movingly and enigmatically of the unsustainability of the status quo: “Perhaps hope lies in a vision of all territory west of the Jordan River as somehow more than one state but less than two, under conditions of true equality… One thing is certain. The demand to fully enfranchise the Palestinians now suffering under Israeli rule will eventually prove irresistible. What happens after that, no one can say.” [Shulman, “Bibi: The Hidden Consequences of His Victory,” NY Review of Books, April 23, 2015] Even such a somewhat hopeful prospect is insufficient to render justice to the Palestinians as it leaves out of account the more than 7 million Palestinians living in refugee camps or exile; in many instances, their circumstances are as desperate, or even more so, than that of Palestinians living in utter vulnerability beneath the yoke of prolonged occupation.

28 Responses to “FIFA Scandals are Worse than Bribes”

  1. Gene Schulman June 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    Right on, Richard. The whole FIFA scandal was a US diversion from the vote to remove Israel from FIFA. The vote was tabled.

    The rest is history!

    • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 5, 2015 at 3:17 pm #


      Let me see if I got this right.

      You allege that the entire FIFA scandal—which likely involvess $100 million in bribes, the indictments and probable trials of key executives, and the resignation of FIFA’s long-standing CEO—was a US contrivance to shield Israel from Palestinian accusations?

      Friend, it’s time for you to begin sniffing another brand of glue, or seek gainful employment writing the weekly newscast for Saturday Night Live.

      Rabbi Ira Youdovin

      • Gene Schulman June 5, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

        Apparently, I am not the only who thinks so, Ira:

        On May 29, 2015, at 3:03 PM, Gilad Atzmon wrote:

        So obvious 🙂

        Sent from my iPhone

        On 29 May 2015, at 13:59, Gene wrote:

        Just as we all wondered what the hell the US was intervening in FIFA and arresting officials in Zurich was all about, it now comes out that the causus belli was really protecting Israel from being booted out of the football organization. What chutzpah!

        I’ll be nicer than you and refrain from ad hominems

    • Laurie Knightly June 6, 2015 at 8:41 am #

      Does anyone have the total amount paid in bribes by Zionists to dispossess the Palestinians? This might factor into this assumption which appears bizarre on the surface. What hasn’t been used to meet this heinous objective? $100 million is spare change for billionaires.

      • Gene Schulman June 8, 2015 at 7:54 am #


        A week or so ago you attacked me with insults when I made allegations that the FIFA scandal was for the benefit of Israel. I politely replied to you with indications that I was not the only one who thinks that. Since then others have come up with evidence supporting my allegations. You haven’t had the courtesy to reply. Now you attack Ms Knightly for her allegations by calling her scandalous. Don’t you think your comments might have more traction if you addressed the issues with counter facts, rather than just insulting everyone? Ignoring the issues is typical hasbarist ploy.

        The best way to reply to your nasty commentary is by ignoring it.

      • Fred Skolnik June 10, 2015 at 2:17 am #

        All we are doing, Prof. Falk, is asking Mr. Schulman to show us the “evidence” he is talking about, which he of course has not done, for the simple reason that there is none. Does even this require your intervention to protect him from being exposed as a pretty empty shell who is all windup and no delivery?

      • Richard Falk June 10, 2015 at 3:46 am #

        We have contradictory views about what constitutes ‘evidence’ and what is relevant to the resolution
        of conflict. I find you to be consistently insulting and haughty toward those who do not share your views, unyielding
        in the assertion of your own views, and hence not an adversary from whom one can learn from and gain respect
        for differing views of reality. Your approach is what I would call ‘argumentative’ rather than ‘dialogic,’
        and it is only the latter that I find useful in relation to issues fraught with emotion.

      • Gene Schulman June 10, 2015 at 3:56 am #

        Thank you, Richard. It is for these very reasons that I have opted to refrain from responding to Fred’s and Ira’s comments.

      • Fred Skolnik June 10, 2015 at 5:29 am #

        Prof. Falk

        I am aware that we have different views about what constitutes evidence. Mine is entirely conventional, namely, that there are accepted methods of historical research or investigation, which include reading source material in its original language and evaluating its reliability. Your view seems to be that it is sufficient to read biased second- and third-hand English-language sources without the remotest possibility of evaluating or verifying what they assert and then tacking on an “interpretation.” I am stating this very baldly because any historian or legal scholar gathering evidence using your methods would simply be laughed off the stage. If you are not aware of this, then you don’t know what historical method is.

        Every one of your basic assertions have been responded to substantively. Your approach is to ignore what is unanswerable, at best pleading lack of time or your prerogative not to reply to everyone, or falling back on the claim that you or one of your admirers is being insulted. (Has anyone on this site used more personally insulting language than your Mr. Schulman?)

        You have, for example, asserted time again, as a kind of mantra, that the Palestinians are an “indigenous” population and that the Land of Israel is their “ancient” homeland. I have reminded you, time and again, that the Arabs are not an indigenous population and that the Land of Israel is not their ancient homeland. I have pointed out that the Arabs came out of the Arabian Desert in the 7th century and conquered the Middle East and Spain in a rampage of rape, massacre and forced conversion. You have also asserted, time and again, that the Jews “displaced” the Arabs. I have pointed out to you that the Jews purchased land from private landowners and did not displace anyone. I will not elaborate here on the polemical uses to which you have put these two fictions. I will only state that if you believe that a conquest like the Arab conquest accords sovereign rights, then you can have no moral, political or historical grounds for objecting to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. I have noted this before and naturally you have slid around it as just one more inconvenient truth that it would be better to ignore.

        You have created a site that acts as a magnet for antisemites. I call someone an antisemite who uses the language of antisemites, which includes disparaging generalizations about Jewish history, origins, morality, faith, character, money and even genetic makeup, among other things, and find that you habitually encourage and praise such debased people. You have nothing to be proud of. I am certainly not haughty but I have every reason to feel contempt for them. As for the side you have chosen to take in the Arab-Israel conflict, the fact that you have never taken me up on my offer to enumerate the fictions that prop up your arguments is a sure sign that you have very little interest in “learning” anything that will spoil these arguments. I think you are just a little bit afraid to take up such a challenge, point by point, and for very good reason.

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 10, 2015 at 1:22 pm #


        I’m afraid you don’t fully understand what’s happening here. You think of a blog in the way most people do: as a venue where diverse views are debated or discussed according to normal, and (tacitly accepted) rules of evidence and logic.

        Prof. Falk’s blog is very different from the norm. It’s not a venue for exchanging diverse views. To the contrary, it’s a chat room for people who bear animus toward Israel and the United States, and, in many instances, toward Jews. It functions according to its own rules of logic, evidence and discourse. Stakeholders (Prof. Falk calls them the Blog Faithful) share the conviction that Israel and the United States are inherently evil. Because this is accepted as an article of faith, there’s no need to produce empirical evidence in support of allegations arising from it, no matter how preposterous they may be. That’s why Gene Schulman can accuse Israel and the US of fabricating a scandal within FIFA to draw attention from the Palestinians’ bid to expel Israel from the association, and Laura Knightly can allege that Israel is planning to impose rabbinical rule over an area stretching from Mauretania to Israel.—without either of them producing so much as a shred of what in most other venues would be required as supportive evidence.

        When asked about it, Prof. Falk responds that his understanding of the situation differs, but sees no need to tell us how he arrived at his conclusions. Full stop!

        Fred, the universe of logic and discourse in which we, and most people, live is very different from the one occupied by the moderator and his Blog Faithful. Prof. Falk calls it “constructive imbalance”. Its criteria for acceptability is not whether statements comport with reason and available evidence, but whether they support the story he wants to tell. It’s the parlance he employs when communicating with the BF. They use it when communicating with him, and with one another.

        There’s a choreography in how Israel-Palestine is addressed on this Blog. Each thread is introduced by Prof. Falk’s posting by condemning Israel. Almost invariably, Gene Schulman posts the first comment commending Prof. Falk for his wisdom, courage, integrity, etc. In time, other members of BF (there aren’t many) join the attack. As a rule, Prof. Falk commends each one for adding to the quality of the “discussion”—which is a discussion only in the cynically Orwellean sense of word.

        There’s a comfortable and familiar rhythm to this, which few other dissenters who wander in from time to time disrupt. We disrupt the party; soil the nest. We’re trespassers into a region of cyberspace where we do not belong…unwelcome intruders who are fair game for defamatory insults. The BF’s anger reflects more than disagreement over issues. They’re angry at us for disrupting their litany of hate in a comfort zone that is theirs, not ours. And if we persist to the point where they can no longer simply ignore us, they call us bad names and use these as an excuse for avoiding our questions. But this a scam. The real issue is their inability to move from behind the protective shield of their own universe of discourse, and are thus unwilling and/or unable to deal with empirical evidence that undermines their narrative.

        In fairness. Prof. Falk warned us about this situation. About a year ago, he asked that anyone who did not hold Israel totally—or almost totally—responsible for its impasse with the Palestinians should post elsewhere. This may be difficult to reconcile with his claim that his preferred idiom of communication is dialogic. But it’s not so difficult to understand if dialogue is restricted to communication with people who share your prejudices and thus live with you in the same conceptual universe.


        Rabbi Ira Youdovin

      • Fred Skolnik June 10, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

        You have summed things up very nicely, Ira, so I will only conclude with a short note. I haven’t followed Prof. Falk’s career but from his own complaints I understand that he has also become a discredited scholar in legitimate academic circles, not to mention the general public. This does not surprise me. He has become a polemicist and little more, using wild and irresponsible language to vilify his targets and handing out free passes to the most barbaric organizations and repressive regimes on the face of the earth as long as they represent themselves as enemies of Israel, America or the West in general. He thinks of this as “paying the price,” but he is paying this price not because his “truth” is too strong to bear but because what he is saying is demonstrably false and slanderous, distorted, biased, unfair, and would not be said by anyone who did not bear the greatest animus toward Israel. It is because he is redefining an entire lexicon of legal and commonly understood terms of opprobrium to put Israel in the worst possible light, for reasons best known to himself.

  2. Jerry "Peacemaker" June 5, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    Robert Fantina’s Counterpunch article seems to make the situation abundantly clear.

  3. Beau Oolayforos June 7, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    It was one thing to see our august Solons in Congress, awhile back, gossipping about steroids in baseball players – & now we’ve graduated to FBI panty raids in Swiss hotels over, uh, soccer. Meanwhile, the IDF is pounding Gaza, again, over a few of the fourth-of-July fireworks that landed in empty desert. Are we gearing up for another Summer Massacre?

    • Gene Schulman June 7, 2015 at 11:20 am #

      Maybe this will help answer your question, Oolayforos:

      • Beau Oolayforos June 7, 2015 at 10:34 pm #

        Thanks for the bad news, including the candidacy of His Epicene Majesty, Senator Graham, for Commander-in-Chief.

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 8, 2015 at 8:12 pm #


        Fred Skolnik has it right. WHAT FACTS AM I IGNORING?

        The only fact you present is that the US brought charges against FIFA executives at about the same time the Palestinian Football Association brought charges demanding Israel’s expulsion. Any connection between the two is pure speculation on your part. You produce not one shred of evidence to support your allegation. Not one memo nor wiretapped phone conversation. My friend, speculation is neither evidence nor fact.

        Robert Fantina plays the same dirty game in his article brought to your attention by Gilad Atzmon.

        Gene, you and your colleagues have an idee fixe about Israel being unremittingly evil and partnered with the all-powerful United States to wreak evil everywhere in the world. It’s a handy theory for blaming Israel and the United States for anything and everything wrong in the world without bothering to produce supporting evidence or considering the feasibility of what your allege. Not long ago you blamed Israel for causing the turmoil in Ukraine. Laurie Knightly alleges that Israel intends to impose rabbinic rule over a vast area stretching from Mauretania to india.

        There’s no evidence for any of this. But with an idee fixe—especially one rooted in prejudice—one doesn’t need evidence. All one needs are a few colleagues who hold the same prejudice and are eager to support one another. Notice how the same names appear over and over again in your posts? It’s a neatly closed circle. But your problem is that very few people outside the circle give any credence to what you say.

        The reason I gave your allegation short shrift is that it’s not only speculative; it’s patently absurd. Do you really believe that the United States would spend millions of dollars just to spare Israel a little embarrassment?

        Why the coincidence of dates? Well…both the Palestinian bid and American revelations were timed to coincide with a meeting of FIFA’s governing body. A far more plausible explanation for the US action is that it wanted to pre-empt Sepp Blatter’s election to another four year term. But that undermines your scenario because Blatter had already indicated his intention to block the Palestinian move.

        As regards insults. I’ll agree to desist from ad hominems if you’ll stop insulting your opponents by calling us “trolls” and claiming that we are brainwashed.


        Rabbi Ira Youdovin

    • Laurie Knightly June 7, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

      Also – the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, May 2015, has a report on Gaza entitled ‘Strangled’ which has an indepth analysis on the situation there. It’s interesting that the international community is called upon to rebuild the devastation and are criticized, furthermore, for the slow response. Perhaps the Israelis should be charged with their own crimes. All funds directed to Israel could be redirected for this purpose. One hears of the deaths but not the 10,000 plus permanently disabled and 89,000 dwellings plus wrecked land etc etc. They must have located a few more targets on which to target practice.

  4. rehmat1 June 8, 2015 at 5:17 am #

    FIFA scandal had nothing to do with bribery, which is considered kosher in many international supports events. It was all about Zionist world politics to counter ‘delegitimizing’ the Zionist entity.

    Palestinian Football Association (PFA) has asked FIFA to suspend Israel football team from world football events just as it suspended apartheid South Africa and the war-criminal Solobodan Milosevic’s Yugoslavia in the past.

    “Poor Jibril Rajoub, the disgraced former Palestinian security chief. He had a brief renaissance with his bid to expel Israel from international football at the FIFA Congress this week. But with Wednesday morning’s revelations of arrests of senior FIFA officials and simultaneous US and Swiss charges of corruption has killed his bid,” Anshel Pfeffer boasted at Israel daily Ha’aretz on May 27, 2015.

    One of the “corruption” charges relates to FIFA awarding Qatar the 2022 World Cup. The decision is being investigated whether “criminal management and money laundering” helped the pro-Hamas Qatar to win the bid.

    This latest ‘antisemitism’ in supports reminds me of Zionist groups’ smear campaign against NFL for allowing Pakistan-born American industrialist Shahid Khan buying Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011.

  5. rehmat1 June 8, 2015 at 5:26 am #

    Gene Schulman – Like Iran’s nuclear threat – successive Zionist regimes have been threatening Hizbullah with destruction since Jewish army humiliation in South Lebanon in 2000.

    In Summer 2006, Israel with the active help from the US, EU and some ‘proxy’ Arab regimes bombarded Hizbullah targets for 52-day. While the Jewish army failed to destroy Hizbullah – it suffered the greatest military and human loses since 1948.

  6. Brenda Heard June 8, 2015 at 5:54 am #

    The answer that went unheard to Weizman’s 1914 question “What else is necessary than to fit the gem into the ring, to unite this people with this country?” was “The King-Crane Commission Report,” of 1919. Members of the King-Crane Commission travelled throughout southern Turkey, Greater Syria and Palestine, meeting with 442 delegations and receiving 1863 petitions from the region. The overriding consensus was for a unified and independent Syria—and strongly opposed to Zionist settlement in Palestine. Not because they were racist, but because the imposition of a Jewish State would violate their own civil and religious rights, by “steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land.” The report stated that the proposed Zionist programme would also backfire against the Jewish people it was meant to help, for it “would intensify, with a certainty like fate, the anti-Jewish feeling both in Palestine and in all other portions of the world.” The antipathy toward the project was so great, the report warned, that it could not be carried out “except by force of arms.”

    The recommendation regarding Zionism was that “In view of all these considerations, and with a deep sense of sympathy for the Jewish cause, the Commissioners feel bound to recommend that only a greatly reduced Zionist program be attempted by the Peace Conference, and even that, only very gradually initiated. This would have to mean that Jewish immigration should be definitely limited, and that the project for making Palestine distinctly a Jewish commonwealth should be given up.”

    But the contents of this extensive study were not made public until 1922. And the interim developments cemented the drive to ignore the sentiments of this report and any semblance of democratic policy. (The notable developments were the Third Aliyah (1919—1923), the 1920 San Remo Conference of the Allied Powers, and the appointment of Herbert Samuel—a “sympathizer with the Zionist enterprise” according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs—as British High Commissioner of Palestine.)

  7. Free stolen Palestine June 8, 2015 at 8:29 am #

    (Do you have evidence to substantiate your allegations, or is this just another example of your anti-Israel slander?)

    Do you have evidence for what you claimed to do the criminal acts of: WMD, 9/11, bombing Gaza, Bombing Syria, at least 4 times, bombing, claiming Iran has nuclear weapon program? Until then the world say shame on you liars.

    The world is fed up with the colonists, zionist jews, enemy of humanity and their supporters in the capitals of the criminal western countries.
    Obama is the most savage ‘president’ of the US so far, and the best servants that zionist Jews could buy.

    • Fred Skolnik June 8, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

      You see, Prof. Falk. In your world this kind of venom is perfectly acceptable but a request to Mr. Schulman, however sarcastic, to back up his allegations with evidence, is immediately removed by you, I suppose that if you can rationalize Arab terrorism you can rationalize anything.

      • Richard Falk June 8, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

        I am afraid that what you find ‘venomous’ I usually find reasonable, and vice versa. If you could avoid
        personalizing your comments we might yet find common ground.

      • Fred Skolnik June 8, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

        Never mind the “Zionist Jews, enemy of humanity,” which includes me by the way, but I also see a “9/11” in there. This of course refers to the crazy idea that Jews conspired in the bombing, as I’m sure you know. Do you find this reasonable too?

  8. Gene Schulman June 10, 2015 at 3:16 pm #


    I hope you won’t delete these comments by Ira and Fred. Let them stand as testimony to hasbaric biases they are. I’m actually beginning to believe that these two are getting paid by the word. Otherwise, why would they waste so much time saying the same things over and over again. Talk about Zionist polemic? Right out of the Jerusalem Post!

    I shall continue to ignore them, while you continue your good work. Onward!


  9. Gene Schulman June 10, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    Sorry, this comment should have bee paced at the end of the stream following the referred to comments:


    I hope you won’t delete these comments by Ira and Fred. Let them stand as testimony to hasbaric biases they are. I’m actually beginning to believe that these two are getting paid by the word. Otherwise, why would they waste so much time saying the same things over and over again. Talk about Zionist polemic? Right out of the Jerusalem Post!

    I shall continue to ignore them, while you continue your good work. Onward!



  1. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » FIFA Scandals Are Worse Than Bribes - June 8, 2015

    […] Go to Original – […]

  2. Richard Falk: There are FIFA Scandals Worse Than Bribes - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics - June 9, 2015

    […] By Richard Falk By arrangement with Richard Falk […]

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