Winston Churchill famously quipped that "democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." But democracy is exactly the problem with FIFA, which is why the world of soccer is left with the mess we have today.
At dawn on Wednesday in Zurich, Swiss law enforcement raided luxury hotels and arrested several FIFA executives on charges of corruption. Working closely with the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI, in all 14 officials were indicted and those arrested in Zurich will face extradition to the United States.
Not among those arrested (yet) is FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who is supposed to stand for re-election Friday and is widely expected to win once again, extending his reign -- of terror and corruption -- that began in 1998.
So far, FIFA remains steadfast that the election will go on as planned and, if it does, Blatter will win a fifth term despite the ongoing probe of his corrupt regime. If (when?) re-elected, preparations for the tainted World Cups of 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar will continue as planned.
Why is it that Blatter has such an iron-clad grip on the levers of world soccer despite being nearly universally hated -- by fans, players and most of the high-profile national associations? The answer to that is simple: Because FIFA practices democracy in its purest form.
FIFA is made up of six confederations and 209 member associations, each representing an independent country or territory. In FIFA's form of democracy, each member has equal voting power, meaning Monserrat, a Caribbean territory of Great Britain with less than 5,000 residents, has as much pull as four-time and reigning World Cup champion Germany.
Blatter has this all figured out. To stay in power, he doesn't need to appeal to the better angels of his constituency, but the worst despots who will be most easily bought. If he gets 105 of the membership to vote for him, then his hold on power is secure. And there are plenty of votes to mine.
The math is pretty simple so you don't need Nate Silver's help. The 209 associations are broken down as such: AFC (Asia and Australia) 46, CAF (Africa) 54, CONCACAF (North and Central American and Caribbean) 35, CONMEBOL (South America) 10, OFC (Oceania) 11, UEFA (Europe) 53.
As you can see, there are far more votes from the CAF and CONCACAF -- which happen to be the most corrupt confederations -- than UEFA and CONMEBOL, the ones that actually dominate global soccer.
Blatter's method is nakedly effective. He entices the associations in the world's poorest regions with funds to allegedly improve infrastructure for soccer, since FIFA sits on $1.5 billion in reserves. Whether these representatives actually use the money to build soccer fields or line their own pockets instead, FIFA and Blatter do not care. But with each distribution, a vote is reliably purchased by Blatter.
That's why leading up to the election on Friday, Blatter has consistently refused to debate his challengers (having dwindled from three to one). When pressed by the media, he arrogantly stated that he'll let his work stand as his manifest. He has no fear of losing the votes from the core group that has been feeding at his trough for nearly the past two decades.
This is the same arrangement that produced votes that gave Russia and Qatar the next two World Cups despite both countries ranking far behind their competitors in FIFA's own evaluation reports. The most corrupt confederations are the ones with most votes for sale.
Faced with this reality, there is only one way to break FIFA's cycle of corruption. Dismantle FIFA's democratic sham.
The only organization with the clout to do this is UEFA, the governing body of European soccer. UEFA's members boast the world's top and richest professional leagues and club teams, within them a near monopoly of the world's best players. No World Cup final was contested without an UEFA team and of the 20 World Cups ever held, UEFA teams finished in the top four 56 times, more than all other confederations combined.
Simply put, a World Cup without a UEFA presence would not be legitimate. And it looks though the European association, composed of more democracies than any other confederation, is finally going to wield its power to force FIFA to reform. On Wednesday, UEFA formally demanded that FIFA postpone Friday's vote to re-elect Blatter:
UEFA needs to keep the pressure on until it's satisfied that FIFA has enacted necessary reforms. It should force a revote of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights, even though it counts illiberal Russia as one of its own members. UEFA president Michel Platini, who was once among Blatter's biggest backers, now must follow through to tear down the monster he helped to create.
It might be ironic, but only people who practice democratic principles can topple FIFA's fraudulent democracy.