No Surprise

We’ve all been experiencing one hell of a Mercury retrograde. As Mercury approaches station Thursday and lurches into forward movement later on this week, it seems as though even an international multimillion-dollar sports league — Federation Internationale de Football Association (or FIFA, for short) — is not big enough to be immune to this retrograde.

This week’s scandale du jour isn’t the familial pedophilia of the Duggars or the skeleton in the closet of former US House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Fourteen of FIFA’s top officials were arrested on charges of corruption by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

RICO is a federal law designed specifically to target organized crime, allowing leaders of a syndicate to be tried for crimes they ordered others to do, or assisted others in doing. Originally designed to prosecute the Mafia, the laws have expanded to include others involved in continual patterns of criminal activity and corruption.

The charges against FIFA are vast. For years, 14 of FIFA’s high-ranking officials pocketed over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks through every phase of the organization’s activities: vote-getting for the cities vying for the right to host the World Cup; exclusive media and marketing rights for the games; development and infrastructure planning of stadiums; even the actual games themselves. Unfortunately, the damage doesn’t end there.

The host countries, particularly in parts of the developing world, sacrificed public dollars they couldn’t afford to build stadiums that are unsustainable economically and environmentally. Jeremy Stahl, soccer blogger for Slate wrote:

In South Africa, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on white elephant stadiums that have rarely been used following the 2010 World Cup in a country where more than half of its children were living in poverty as of 2012. Multiple local officials in that country were reported to have been murdered, allegedly for whistle-blowing or other involvement in stadium fraud.

In Brazil, a $300 million, 40,000-plus seat stadium was built in the middle of the Amazon rainforest where potential post-Cup audiences of that size just don’t exist. That’s probably one reason why a majority of Brazilians opposed hosting this World Cup, saying the more than $11 billion price tag could be better spent on public services.

In Qatar, (the site of the 2022 World Cup) meanwhile, on top of the bribery claims, hundreds of migrant workers have died working on infrastructure and constructions projects since the country was awarded the tournament and 4,000 (or nearly 600 workers per year) are projected to die by 2022 at the current rate.

Sports journalists and broadcasters have been joking about FIFA’s under-reported corruption for years. FIFA corruption was an insider’s joke until one reporter unearthed FIFA’s secrets in an expose published in 2006; that started the Justice Department’s investigation.

Re-elected to his fifth term as FIFA’s President just days after the mass arrest of FIFA’s 14, Sepp Blatter resigned to ease the organization’s “transition” during the US DOJ’s investigation. He currently does not face any charges, even though the man closest to Blatter was arrested. The bets are on whether Blatter will do a perp walk at all.

My hunch is that the 14 are taking the fall. At least for now. I speculate that there is a push to buy time as Blatter puts up enough of a legal wall to protect himself and others — perhaps even higher up than FIFA’s officials, who took part in FIFA’s global scams.

In the United States, our primary religion is NFL football. For the rest of the world, soccer is “the real football.” Like our football, it is a religion ingrained from childhood. Like any religion, soccer glorifies a powerful mix of sacraments: nationalism, machismo, grace, speed, skill and competition. Watching both the sport and the players, I can see why people call it “the beautiful game.”

FIFA is, as John Oliver says in his hilarious rant from 2014, a business that exploits a religion — the worship of soccer. FIFA’s infamous “14” took advantage of soccer’s globally fervent following to profit from the proceeds at almost every level, as if these cardinals of the beautiful game were untouchable because the sport is holy.

With these arrests, FIFA now joins distinguished ranks of other famous RICO collars: the Hell’s Angels, the Catholic dioceses for their part in the sex abuse cover up, and insider trader Michael Milken. From the look of things — the global scale of their activities, the costs in lives for countries that FIFA’s officials exploited, and the arrogance of it’s leadership — FIFA seems to be in well-deserved company. And for the millions across the world who still love this game, that should come as no surprise. Goooooooooooal!!

This entry was posted in Fe-911 on by .

About Fe Bongolan

Planet Waves writer Fe Bongolan lives in Oakland, California. Her column, "Fe-911," has been featured on Planet Waves since 2008. As an actor and dramaturge, Fe is a core member of Cultural Odyssey's "The Medea Project -- Theater for Incarcerated Women," producing work that empowers the voices of all women in trouble, from ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS, to young girls and women at risk. A Planet Waves fan from almost the beginning of Eric's astrology career, Fe is a public sector employee who describes herself as a "mystical public servant." When it comes to art, culture and politics, she loves reading between the lines.

8 thoughts on “No Surprise

  1. Barbara Koehler

    Thanks for explaining the FICA scandal in terms I can understand Fe. Not being a fan it hasn’t interested me beyond the occasional news report – usually on BBC or PBS – regarding the idiocy of location choices for games and the many deaths due to construction work on sites for world events,. It has just been another of the many institutions collapsing under the weight of corruption.

    However, some of your words attributed to the sport began to ring a bell; “religion”, “grace”, “beautiful”, “love”. It would seem that the popularity of this sport, like all sports, fills a void felt by the masses. Much like drugs – including alcohol – can obliterate the pain of reality, so too can the mass intoxication of Big Sports be a temporary escape. I’m assuming that the money amassed comes from fans, the same way drug barons get their fortunes. I looked to the Neptune-Pluto conjunction chart for clues.

    In it there is a yod made up of Neptune (escapism) – Pluto (crime) sextile Mars (sports) – Chiron (pain and healing) both quincunx Hybris, meaning hubris, or as you say “arrogance”. There is also a T-square made up of Venus (money, adoration) opposite Industria (big business) T-squared by Uranus (revolution) . In this chart Industria is located at 28+ Capricorn which is where transiting Saturn will station direct (and also square Jupiter (justice) in August.

    As transiting Neptune begins to retrograde back to 8+ Pisces he will square the Pluto-Neptune conjunction at 8+ Gemini. He will also sextile that chart’s Hybris, which will form a yod to that chart’s conjunction between Mars and Chiron in Leo. As transiting Neptune is already stationing (exact this coming Friday), what we are seeing in the news now is, I’m sure, at least in part symbolized by that event taking shape. It will mean that Mars (sports) and Chiron (pain or healing) will have to make an adjustment (result of quincunx) as it relates to this chart for the Pluto and Neptune cycle.

    For what it’s worth, at the time Neptune made a conjunction to Pluto in 1891, the Galactic Core (a higher universal intelligence) was at 25+ Sagittarius, and so was Vesta, symbolic of investments, as well as dedication and focus.

  2. Barbara Koehler

    So sorry, my apologies, transiting Saturn will station at 28+ Scorpio, not Capricorn. Therefore he will sextile Industria in the Neptune-Pluto chart (rather than conjunct her), which will make for an interesting Yod to the Neptune-Pluto chart’s Atlantis and Panacea both at 27+ Gemini.

    (The transiting Jupiter in Leo will be sextile the Neptune-Pluto’s Atlantis and Panacea which in turn forms yet another yod. . . to Neptune-Pluto’s Industria. Industria opposes same chart’s Venus in Cancer. That makes it a Boomerang with Venus the focal point. It’s all about the money and the love.)

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author

      Wow, great chart information Be. This retrograde has been stunning in the breadth and scope of the dragnet bringing up all the detritus from beneath the surface, and simultaneously from within the boardroom. I wonder what the station and personal planets will do when they enter fire sign zone, the realm of Athletics?

      1. Barbara Koehler

        I’m outa my league re: sports astrology Fe, but some sources insist that these various disclosures are part and parcel of the whole 2012 Mayan Calendar End Times theory. Supposedly the Winter Solstice (12/21/12) initiated a process whereby the “bad stuff/people” would be “outed” and the world would begin to see the truth; how humans had been used by and tricked into believing lies told by the dark powers mostly found in long standing institutions.

        Perhaps this was best expressed, when the 2012 Equinox Sun, symbol of consciousness at 0 Capricorn (long standing institutions), not only was conjunct Juno at 0 Capricorn, the goddess who symbolizes a demand for respect and equal treatment, but they were both sextile Neptune at 0 Pisces, sign and planet symbolizing the ending of cycles.

        When transiting Venus, a personal planet that symbolizes what we love and cherish, crossed 0 Leo (a Fire sign) this past Friday, she would have symbolically created a Yod apex to the 2012 Equinox chart’s sextile between Sun-Juno and Neptune. It could be interpreted as a 2012 prophecy that human values would go through a metamorphosis as part of its evolutionary experience. Learning the truth can be painful and/or shocking but necessary in order to move forward.

        Perhaps as each of the personal planets have crossed the 0 Leo degree over the last 2 1/2 years, they have pushed the envelope a little further open. If July’s arrival of Sun and Mercury at 0 Leo, and August’s arrival of Mars at 0 Leo coincide with further disclosures of wrong doing by powerful people, in sports or other venues, we will know we have stumbled on to something!

  3. Lizzy

    “Sports journalists and broadcasters have been joking about FIFA’s under-reported corruption for years”. In fact my father is a sports journalist, and has been doing just that . Thanks for this great, informative piece, Fe.

  4. Len Wallick

    Fe: Following Barbara’s lead, please also accept my own thanks for once again making the confounding understandable. In a frequently discomforting world, you are a comforting source of sound and useful perspective.

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