There's only so much research I can do on a person to get a sense of their character. What's worse is trying to do that through the lens and screen of mainstream media. You might have done diabolical dealings and made some public errors (interrupting a moment of silence for Nelson Mandela wasn't your best of moments), but who hasn't made mistakes, right?
What interests me most about you isn't the corruption and financial mismanagement as former president of FIFA. Instead, I'm interested in knowing how much of a family guy you are. I'm interested in your marital and parental relationships—it's what people aren't bringing to the discussion. I'm trying to imagine the kind of man your family sees as you'd sit at the dinner table and break bread. Were you an awesome father? I try to imagine the kids running to the door as you make your way down the cobblestone pathway. I imagine you holding your late wife's hand, as she slips away from her complicated illness.
Joseph, you might've been a corrupt president. You might've been a greedy leader. But when I strip away all the muck and crud from your Stage 4 Antiheroic Fall and look past your Stage 3 Rebellion, I see a Stage 2 man of ambition. I see a man that realized he had a gift. A gift to network. A gift for administration. Hell, a gift for financing and re-appropriating funds. I see a man who wanted or at least attempted to be a family man. A man who had a desire to love and be loved.
So, you fucked up. We all do. And some of us don't change until we either get caught (if our workings are clandestine), hurt someone we really love, or just hurt ourselves severely. But why? What makes these events so special that we choose to change or feel forced to stop and reassess the path we've chosen? It's the humiliation that comes with it. The humiliation from the media or our community. The humiliation from realizing how our selfishness hurt the ones we love. The humiliation of putting our own lives in jeopardy. And, Sepp, that humiliation often morphs into shame.
Your humiliation might have been warranted. I believe humiliation is a public, corrective action that motivates us to do better—to change our behavior. Shame takes that corrective opportunity and makes us believe we are inherently incapable of such change. You can change. Your story isn't over. Your 8-year ban from FIFA is the isolation necessary to reflect, regroup and reconnect with what truly matters: Your family.
Every antihero needs a period of isolation. We must disconnect from the awful narratives that others, especially ourselves, have created and to begin the process of self-forgiveness. You owe it to yourself, Sepp. You have a gift. You misappropriated those gifts, like with the FIFA funding, but now it's time to re-appropriate the greatness that has been bestowed upon you in humility and honesty. It'll take time. But it's possible.
I don't know much about FIFA, finances or political corruption, but what I do know is that shame can be reversed. The hubris of our misappropriated strengths for selfish gain can be repurposed for good and public service. If by any chance you find this note and want to chat about how it works, feel free to reach out. Or just anonymously download the antihero process in the Library page.
It's not too late.