The things you miss if you aren't on Twitter.

Like a respected Newsweek reporter casually dropping a Wile E. Coyote-style bomb, the kind that looks more like a bowling ball with a wick than something that might actually harm anyone, labelled "Qatar World Cup Bribes" into the laps of Twitter's ever-milling soccer writers, bloggers, and fans with not so much as a "how do you do."

It took a few minutes for us to realize what we were seeing.

Quite the revelation, right?  I have no idea what "(legal)" is supposed to mean, but this sure as hell looks like a the beginnings of a smoking gun!  A legitimate journalist  is finally giving us something concrete to back up all of the speculation we've had over the past few weeks.  Surely, Alter's on the case, Qatar will be outed for buying the World Cup, and some sort of change will come to FIFA.  Oh happy day!

More from Alter.

Alter is forgetting about the Aussies, Koreans, and Japanese, but whatever.  He's telling us what we've suspected all along, and with something to back it up.  This isn't the tweet of a slightly demented Big Soccer poster who needs to get out of the basement on occasion, it's the weighty word of a senior (non-soccer) journalist.  We got 'em now baby.  Here comes the hammer!

Um. Jonathan?  What do you mean "who will probe"? You're the one with the source, man. There is no one to "probe" because FIFA answers to no one.  We don't have an independent investigator ready to take on the governing body of the world's most popular sport (Andrew Jennings doesn't count), nor does it appear there is a federation willing to stick their necks out to take on Blatter and his cronies.  I'm not sure what you're doing, playing with our emotions like this.

Well now you're just being mean, considering that YOU'RE A MEMBER OF THE PRESS IN A FIFA NATION.  I suppose soccer matters aren't on your beat, but simply throwing this out there like your Tweet will prompt some kind of widespread action is pointless at best, irresponsible at worst. Twitter isn't your personal trash bin, where you throw all the information you come across but for which you have no need.  Dammit man.

Speechless.  I'm utterly speechless.  You hope Twitter can flush out more?  How would that work exactly?  Do you expect Twitter to achieve consciousness at some point in the near future, suddenly becoming able to access bank records and communication throughout the world, thereby proving that Qatar paid (legal) bribes of $10 million each to the FIFA ExCo members?  Just don't let it link up with Skynet!

Ultimately, this is going nowhere.  Alter deserves some of the blame, in part because he let his little nugget slip but provided no way to follow the trail.  Again, uncovering soccer corruption might not be part of his job description, but better to pass the information on to a colleague behind the scenes than throw un-sourced info out on Twitter as if it will magically turn into a FIFA probe.

But the really depressing bit is that Alter's tweet, whether it ultimately leads to any action against FIFA and Qatar or not, should have spawned a rush of stories, commentary, calls to arms, or simple reports in the hours and day after.  There are thousands of news organizations the world over who, if they picked up the phone to give Alter a call, could verify that his soccer-related Twitter spurt was legitimate and not the work of a prankster.  Even if the national affairs man won't give up his sources, his statements alone might merit a blurb.  At the very least, it's something new to add to the steaming pile of dung that is the World Cup bid announcement aftermath.  A story about international corruption is still a story about international corruption, even if it relates to what is a third rate sport in America.

A check of Google News gave me this:

That's it.  A mention on Joshua Mayers' Seattle Times blog, a writeup at Pro Basketball Talk of all places, SB Nation's RSL blogger Denz (who loves himself some conspiracy), and a few foreign-language stories.  Hardly an explosion.  I know there are a few more blogs that have managed to get themselves on Google News.  This is ridiculous.

Maybe I expected too much.  It is just a tweet after all.  The interest in the sport from the mainstream American media just isn't there to prompt any reaction.  Unless some investigative journalist has taken the torch from Alter and is even now working on a piece to blow the lid off of FIFA's Qatari bribes, Alter's tweets will amount to nothing more than a fart in the wind.  As quickly as it pops up to wrinkle our nose, it's gone.

The bottom line, as Alter so perfectly illustrated yesterday, is that America just doesn't care on the necessary level for his information to turn into anything substantial.  Besides, what a $10 million payout amongst friends?

For better thoughts on Alter's moment in the soccer sun, see James T's piece at Unprofessional Foul.

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