clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Does FIFA have some lessons for the NFL?

New, comments

The recent legal action against some head honchos in FIFA might provide the NFL with a warning.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

During the last couple of days, we have seen two stories break that fall into the "sports controversy" territory. First, and most relevant to the 49ers' recent history, is the quickly developing arrest record of Ray McDonald. Violating a restraining order is his most recent transgression, but it comes on the heels of other problematic circumstances involving alleged domestic violence and child endangerment. These issues have been problematic for the NFL in general over the last couple of years, most notably with respect to Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

To be honest, the prevalence of domestic violence and the negative press it entails, the injury and player safety issues, and the strain of horrible refereeing has made me wonder if the NFL has reached its zenith as a sports institution. As it currently stands, the NFL is easily the largest sports organization in the USA, and it's not really that close. It's bloated with respect to both viewership and money. It seems so outrageous, at times, to even think that that fact could change. But, I worried (and continue to worry) that cultural pressure will drain the NFL of its viewership and push it into mediocrity.

But, the second major news story might have some instructive points for consideration: the US is seeking the arrest and extradition of top FIFA officials. I'm not going to pretend that I know a ton about FIFA in general, let alone the law. But, from what I have read, it sounds like the organization has been so blatantly, obviously corrupt for so long that this legal action really is not that unusual. Here is some information about why the US is leading the charge. And here is some information about current president Sepp Blatter and why he won't resign. Let that be a sufficient intro to the topic (I hope!).

What lessons can be learned between comparing the NFL and FIFA? Well, not a ton, mainly due to how different the organizations are. The size of FIFA really dwarfs the NFL. Moreover, the NFL has at least attempted to cover up its corruption (and, I should acknowledge that I am being hyperbolic - as far as I understand, there isn't any evidence of forthright corruption on the part of the NFL like there has been with FIFA), while FIFA has basically not cared at all.

Two points can be made, though they do somewhat contradict each other (as is wont to happen in life). One, the NFL should learn from as powerful an organization as FIFA. If an organization that large can be rattled overnight like this, the so too can the NFL. Of course, we haven't seen how this is going to play out. It could be that this just becomes a minor blip on FIFA's radar. But, this could be a serious challenge to the current makeup of the organization. Second, it took actual legal action on the part of the US in the face of some well-known corruption for FIFA to be challenged. Would a messing season of PR have brought about this much damage? Perhaps, but so far it looks like the NFL has been able to adjust in the face of their rough year. Cultural problems might not be enough to dethrone the NFL's hegemony in the US.

What do you guys think? Does FIFA provide a warning to the NFL? What lessons might we learn from the recent news? What might the NFL learn?