POOR | Sports Diplomacy for Justice in Palestine

Growing up in Al Shabora refugee camp, Mahmoud Sarsak recalls that his only toy was a frayed, well-used soccer ball. When repairs were needed, he assembled haphazard patches and inflated the ball with balloons, because he knew there was no money for a new ball. Sarsak’s childhood scrimmages grew into a passionate dedication to the sport, which eventually took him to a career with the Palestinian national team. His visibility within Palestinian football has been a personal source of pride and honor, but the spotlight of national sports has also made Sarsak the focus of heightened violence from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). In 2009, while traveling from Gaza to the West Bank to join his new football team, Israeli authorities detained Sarsak at the Erez Crossing checkpoint.

POOR | Better FIFA, Better Cornell

Last Tuesday, Sepp Blatter returned to FIFA headquarters in Zurich to challenge the ruinous end of his 17-year reign as the leader of the world’s most powerful soccer association. After a year of explosive corruption allegations, raids  and resignations, the FIFA ethics committee found Blatter guilty of conflict of interest, exchanging illicit gifts and dereliction of duty. Citing his approval of a $2 million payment to UEFA president Michel Platini, the committee sentenced Blatter to an eight-year suspension from FIFA soccer in December. Blatter’s suspension is the culmination of many years of alleged corruption, money laundering and bribery within FIFA — international scandals that involved hefty sums of money, national pride and corporate cover-ups. While FIFA’s commercial sponsors, fans and players can appreciate a governing body that mediates internal corruption, FIFA has not yet held itself to the same pinnacle of liability for abuses of power at lower levels of the organization.