FIFA Scandals


Courtesy of FIFA

Audrey Swartz, Contributor

The September 27 release of the video game FIFA 17 turned eyes towards the governing body of soccer, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association and their many scandals. Leading to a new focus on FIFA’s troubling history of bribery and corruption and the possibly deadly cost in their future.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, more commonly known as FIFA was created in Zurich in 1904. It has since become one of the most powerful sport bodies. The highlight, the FIFA world cup, takes place every four years and will next take place in Russia in 2018. The world cup involves 32 teams from numerous countries and continents. It is the most watched sporting event worldwide, with even more viewers worldwide than the Olympics and generating billions in ads, merchandising, and broadcast rights. As such an important and profiting event, it would be necessary for the organizers of it to be clean and fair. However, it has been shown time and time again that this very influential body in sports has not been fair at all.

It was announced in 2010 that the world cup of 2018 would take place in Russia, and the World Cup of 2022 would be in Qatar. The location of the 2022 cup was especially surprising  for many reasons, including that the climate of Qatar, with temperatures reaching up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, makes soccer very hard to play. There is also questions as to why Qatar would want to host the cup, seeing that they are not a prominently soccer country. Before hosting, they must build nine new expensive stadiums, due to the fact that they don’t currently have any large enough for the event. Additionally, their national team has never made into the World Cup and is currently ranked 92nd by FIFA. The main reason that Qatar is hosting the World Cup could have negative and deadly results, is that Qatar has a poor humans rights record, with most of the workforce made of Migrant Workers. Amnesty International has said workers are suffering “appalling conditions” as they work on stadiums and prepare for the cup. Over 1,000 workers have already died while preparing for the cup. The same report said that FIFA was “lacking meaningful action to address the issue.”

Many accusations of a dirty election have come forward in this choice of country. In May 2015, the FBI investigated the accusations. Fourteen officials were arrested,  six of them in a highly publicized  Zurich raid. The vice president of FIFA, Jack Warner, was among those arrested. He had allegedly taken a 10 million dollar bribe to vote for South America to host the 2010 World Cup. US attorney general Loretta Lynch commented, “They [the implicated officials] were expected to uphold the rules that keep soccer honest. Instead they corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and enrich themselves.” In all, arrest warrants have been issued for  47 counts of racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, bribery, and other offenses by the US Justice department for the executives. The prosecutors accused them of 150 million in bribes involving media relations and the marketing of FIFA tournaments.

In 2015, the Swiss government opened an investigation into the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, who had been president of FIFA for five terms and seventeen years. It was opened in connection to the Qatar and Russia tournaments and the bribery and corruption in the 2010 vote. Blatter is also suspected on mismanagement of a TV rights deal made with Jack Warner, along with a  “disloyal payment” of 2 million francs (around $2,020,000) to the president of the  Union of European Football Associations. Blatter has since resigned in June of 2015.

As FIFA’s many scandals come in and out of the spotlight and the Russian world cup approaches, the future of FIFA is uncertain. Nonetheless, the future of FIFA may determine the example that soccer sets for what is to be permitted of sporting organizations.