Many football fans are indifferent to all this. What matters to them is the beautiful game, not the tired old suits who run it. And FIFAs moral turpitude is hardly unique. The International Olympic Committee, after all, faced a Qatar-like scandal over the awarding of the winter games in 2002 (though it has made a much bigger attempt to clean itself up). The boss of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone, stands accused of bribery in Germany, while American basketball has just had to sack an owner for racist remarks. Cricket, the second-most-global sport, has had its own match-fixing scandals. American football could be overwhelmed by compensation claims for injuries.
But football fans are wrong to think there is no cost to all this. First, corruption and complacency at the top makes it harder to fight skulduggery on the pitch. Ever larger amounts of money are now being bet on each game—it may be $1 billion a match at the World Cup. Under external pressure to reform, FIFA has recently brought in some good people, including a respected ethics tsar, Mark Pieth. But who will listen to lectures about reform froman outfit whose public face is Mr Blatter?
Second, big-time corruption isnt victimless; nor does it end when a host country is chosen.For shady regimes—the type that bribe football officials—a major sporting event is also a chance to defraud state coffers, for example by awarding fat contracts to cronies. Tournaments that ought to be national celebrations risk becoming festivals of graft.
Finally, there is a great opportunity cost. Football is not as global as it might be (see article).The game has failed to conquer the worlds three biggest countries: China, India and America.In the United States soccer, as they call it, is played but not watched. In China and India the opposite is true. The latter two will not be playing in Brazil (indeed, they have played in the World Cup finals just once between them).