An ongoing hearing at U.S. Congress on the governance and integrity of international soccer aired live Wednesday afternoon on CSPAN, and it’s fair to say it was pretty uncomfortable (Watch it now, or start from the beginning on CSPAN here).
Senators Richard Blumenthal, Jerry Moran, Amy Klobuchar, and Steve Danes took turns asking questions of U.S. Soccer CEO/Secretary General Dan Flynn.
Those queries dealt with the American federation’s knowledge of the FIFA scandal, what it’s done to stop it, and even American corporations sponsoring FIFA and the difference in money between men’s vs. women’s soccer.
After British reporter Andrew Jennings opened by taking some colorful shots at FIFA, and wondering why U.S. Soccer isn’t stepping up to stop the “dirty slimebags at FIFA,” Flynn went under microscope.
[ MORE: All the latest on Sepp Blatter & FIFA ]
Flynn pointed out that FIFA was run in such a manner that U.S. Soccer had to politically pick their battles in order to protect the country’s investment in the sport and competitions. He also rightly pointed out several ways in which the U.S. has taken the lead in progressing FIFA toward equality and cleaner operations.
Without getting into the politically-worded questions of the senators — like those involving “Seep” Blatter and “FIFE-A” — here are some important quotes and recaps of what Flynn’s responses.
On if U.S. Soccer was aware of FIFA wrongdoing: “I nor anyone I work with has not brought anything to my attention, cold-hard facts, or anyone in my organization”
On Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner’s wrongdoing: Flynn said their activites were “private, individual transactions” that needed help from the FBI for four years to bring to light. Regional sponsorship and broadcast rights “had nothing to do with U.S. Soccer”
To what extent he thought there was something amiss: “There were moments I would describe that if I had a level of discomfort, I would not participate or remove myself. If there was cold facts, I would’ve brought that to the attention of appropriate people”
On what he’d do differently; “I wouldn’t say that we would do it differently. Our focus has been.. we’re one of 209 national associations. We have really, at the end of the day, to find a way to participate in a manner that” would facilitate their growth.
On what he was told if he would stand up to Chuck Blazer: There was concern that if he brought stuff to his attention, “I’d feel discomfort in other ways”.