It's easy to be a cynic. Life serves up plenty of examples of how life is unfair to underline a negative worldview.
Put into a football perspective a cynic might hold onto the belief that nothing can be done to prevent corruption in the administration of the game. If the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar and Russia seems a bit off, well, probably it is.
That sucks, but, well, you know...meh. It is what it is, nothing you can do about it, might as well just try and enjoy the game.
It's like when you interview for a really great job, but you tell everyone around you that you don't have a chance. Eventually you convince yourself as well. Expecting the worst possible outcome protects you emotionally when and if it comes.
A psychologist would call it self-handicapping. She would also call it unhealthy. As football fans we do a lot of self-handicapping when it comes to allegations of corruption in FIFA. We look at guys like Andrew Jennings and Declan Hill and we shake our heads -- why do they bother, we wonder. What's the point?
Those of us of a certain age will remember the Atlas "man out of Mac" ads that used to appear in the back of our comic books. Mac, a skinny little fellow, had sand kicked in his face by the big bully of a jock. Making things worse was Mac had his pretty girlfriend on his arm when the bully took his manliness away.
So off Mac went (using Atlas product, of course) and spent significant time in the gym. By the time he ran into the bully again Mac had bulked up to the point that he could beat the living crap out of him.
Today I'm sure that the advertising in the back of comic books contains PSAs about anti-bullying programs and that Mac would be suspected of buying some PEDs from that sketchy guy that hangs out at the back of the gym, but I digress.
There comes a time when it's clear that cynicism is no longer the road to take and that you need to go all Mac on the bully’s ass.
The tipping point is often an extreme moment of humiliation and disrespect. You don't need to think about it either. You just know.
We've reached our Mac point with FIFA. The noise coming out of some of the bigger federations is consistent: it's time to put a stop to this. There are even whispers of a rival organization starting that features the biggest countries (which, beyond being used for leverage, is not a welcome idea -- I don't want the World Cup closed to anyone).
Hell, Switzerland -- SWITZERLAND! -- has said that it's not putting up with it anymore. It launched an anti-corruption investigation yesterday into all sport originations (most of the biggies are in Switzerland). I'm sure that the IOC is about ready to go Mac of Sepp's ass right now too as they are going to be investigated by the Swiss as well.
Sure people have talked about cleaning international football up in the past. This seems different though. It took the twin tragedies of Hillsborough and Heysel for people to get serious about making necessary changes in stadiums and crowd control.
We should be careful when we talk about those incidents to not forget that lives were lost -- awarding a World Cup to Qatar is hardly on the same level -- but last week's decision by FIFA could end up being a similar impetus to change that those two disasters were.
This is not a time for cynicism. It's a time for hope -- people finally seem serious about cleaning the administration of the game up.