It’s hard not to feel satisfaction at the indictment of soccer officials for apparently corrupting the globe’s Beautiful Game—soccer in America but football to most of the world. Yet emotional satisfaction is a bad basis for government policy. While the U.S. is not the only nation to assert extraterritorial jurisdiction, it does so more often and more broadly than anyone else.
Moreover, punishing foreigners creates future risks. Someday Americans might get indicted by other nations for “crimes” committed in the U.S.
How did Washington become the world’s policeman and prosecutor in the case of soccer? The sport remains a modest phenomenon in America. Most of the alleged crimes involve foreigners acting overseas.
The impact in the U.S. is less than that on almost every other nation on earth, since virtually everywhere the sport commands greater loyalty from a larger percentage of the population. Nevertheless, some of the criminal acts took place in America and the corruption affected interstate (and foreign) commerce, the boilerplate justification used by Uncle Sam for regulating most everything.