The Caribbean is still collectively stunned at the swiftness and surreptitiousness with which Swiss authorities, on behalf of the United States’ Department of Justice, arrested FIFA officials and corporate executives on charges of racketeering, conspiracy, and corruption. But that hasn't stopped the regional blogosphere from having a good belly laugh.
Two high-profile Caribbean citizens — Jack Warner, a Trinidadian who is a former FIFA vice president, and Jeffrey Webb, a Caymanian who took over the post from Warner — were named among the indicted defendants. Webb was arrested in Zurich, while Warner turned himself in to Trinidad and Tobago police after a formal extradition request was made by the US government.
Suspicions of corruption have long plagued the football world governing body and Caribbean netizens are no strangers to the many clandestine practices that take place in regional soccer. Any surprise expressed online about the arrests came not from a lack of awareness about alleged corruption, but from a sense of disbelief that the piper had finally arrived to collect his payment.
In a region that does not have a good track record when it comes to bringing white collar crimes to justice, most people were captivated by the fact that Uncle Sam would see it fit to finally call foul. In a sense, the US government didn't really have a choice — many of the crimes were, after all, carried out on American soil. Just as importantly, the country isn't bogged down by the insane level of soccer fervour that has seemed to stymie other governments from calling out FIFA on its manner of doing business.
Facebook user Natasha Ramnauth explained the overwhelming citizen media reaction this way:
The malicious gleefulness with which our nation greeted the news of Mr. Jack Warner's arrest yesterday was truly indicative of our lack of maturity. Instead of being ashamed that it took an external agency to do what we consistently fail or refuse to do, which is hold people to account, we construct memes and make stupid remarks about ‘party done’. We continue to support politicians who keep election dates in their ‘back pocket’, agencies run by people who fail to conduct due diligence or practice accountability, the list is endless. Shame on all of us Trinidad and Tobago.
Despite her admonishment, however, the memes and clever status updates were unstoppable.
One of the first comments was from blogger Rhoda Bharath, who referred to Jack Warner's infamous face off with investigative reporter Andrew Jennings. When asked about his involvement in a ticket scandal, Warner repeatedly told Jennings to “go fuck [him]self”, physically assaulted him and even suggested that Jennings “go meet [his] mother”, who was already deceased. Bharath cleverly quipped:
Breaking News: Andrew Jennings’ mother has been located and has a response!
Memes in this vein soon followed:
There was also a video featuring a popular local puppet, Santana, as he spent a night in jail with Jack Warner:
Good MorningJack and Santana spends a night in jail togetherView full version of “Just Ah Sip 2″ www.youtube.com/rogera43And Don't Forget To Subscribe
Posted by Lexo TV on Thursday, May 28, 2015
Other memes referred to one particular political controversy in Trinidad and Tobago, Section 34, which involved an attempt to pass legislation that could have resulted in two financiers of the prime minister's party, Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh, escaping corruption and money laundering charges. The accused have been fighting extradition to the United States for at least five years.
Of course, no FIFA meme-fest would be complete without a jab at Sepp Blatter, the four-time FIFA president who is currently seeking another term, and who presided over the world football organisation while rampant corruption, bid-rigging, bribery and money laundering allegedly took place. Many are still astonished that Blatter was not among those arrested:
The FIFA election, which still appears set to give Blatter the nod for a fifth term as president, will take place today.