Business as Usual.


Every once in a while, you see that movie, that series, or you read that book.  You know the one I am talking about.  It grabs you and doesn’t let go. You cannot put it down or stop binge watching until you have exhausted both the pages in the book and yourself for the next day.  

Recently, I have been reading the book titled Red Card by Ken Bensinger and now I need help.  I cannot stop reading it and my beauty sleep is important (I am not the prettiest pig). More importantly, this book is infuriating.  I need help tampering my emotional outrage. 

Red Card chronicles the recent corruption investigation into the soccer world’s governing body, FIFA, from its earliest stages.

As a soccer nerd, I am fully aware of the case and its outcomes.  I read about them in the press, watched the updates on television and online, and even discussed it with friends and family. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.    

The level of detail in this book about the investigation process and the strategy employed in building the case is remarkable. As an example, before reading this book I was unfamiliar with the term structuring (also, known as “smurfing”). Structuring is the process of making a number of small deposits below a certain threshold (i.e. $10,000) to avoid triggering a report to the IRS.  The author defines the term for the reader and how criminals use structuring to launder money.  He references specific dollar amounts of the deposits, the location of the deposits, and how investigators tied the individuals to the deposits using ATM cameras, security footage, and travel itineraries.  All of this effort around structuring was helpful to the case, but was strategically designed to create leverage and motivation for individuals to talk.  It was a unique solution to an intractable problem.  

As this example illustrates, soccer generally, and U.S. Soccer specifically is corrupt.  The level of corruption in soccer is pervasive and demoralizing, so much so, that as a fan, coach, and player I am called to action.  Change is necessary.  While I (Scott) and we (Chapman and Company) do not have many answers, we know that a radical redesign of the community is necessary.

We can build a better more inclusive system from the bottom up.  This begins with educating people about why change is needed.  So, educate yourself.  One excellent way to begin this education is by reading this book. Then, do as I am doing - tell others about it.  Moreover, use the book as a mechanism for change.  Advocate for change.  

Finally, we at Chapman and Company believe in community building – so we think that you can do something. It does not have to be big.  Write a letter to local soccer leaders, schedule a luncheon for local club coaches, host a zoom meeting with regional soccer representatives, and share your ideas about how we build a system of government for soccer that better represents the ethics and will of the participants.  We have written a lot on this topic – but believe strongly that it should be community first – not top down.  Red Card illustrates one of the reasons that we believe in community building.

The current system was designed by the corrupt (a small number of top down “leaders” for their benefit. Without change we will just see more of the same… business as usual.   

Scott Bragg