The football world was rocked earlier this week when investigators uncovered a fixing scam within the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, aka FIFA. Under instruction from the FBI and US Justice Department, Swiss authorities indicted fourteen high profile sports officials over corruption charges. Of these, seven were arrested in Zurich and are still under investigation.
Of the fourteen indicted persons, nine were current or serving FIFA officials while five were sports media and promotions executives. In total the bribe charges totalled over £100 million, racked up over a period of 24 years. In the wake of the scandal the Swiss authorities have launched an investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournament bids.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter wasn’t among the indicted party, or those arrested. However he has publically spoken out about the scandal, admitting that “These are unprecedented and difficult times for FIFA.” He says that the events have “cast a long shadow over football” and acknowledges that if proven, they will “bring shame and humiliation on football and demand action and change from us all. We cannot allow the reputation of FIFA to be dragged through the mud any longer.” As expected he is denying all involvement and maintains that, “I can’t monitor everyone all of the time.”
Unsurprisingly, FIFA sponsors are seriously disappointed in the association and its internal corruption. Adidas, VISA and Coca-Cola are all calling on the body to reform its practices or face the consequences. VISA asserts that unless world governing body enforces “strong ethical practices” it will be forced to “reassess” its sponsorship deal. A spokesperson for Coca-Cola was also quick to criticise the association, stating that “This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations.”
As for what motivated the USA to take on FIFA? While the investigation has been 24 years in the making, some are maintaining that when the US lost its bid to host the 2022 World Cup to Qatar it was not impressed. Hence why it pulled out all stops to expose how a dry, desert nation managed to secure the world’s biggest sporting event.
So where does this leave FIFA? While its reputation may have received a serious blow the reality is that it still remains football’s world governing body and this is not likely to change anytime soon. However by publically uncovering internal corruption the FBI and US Justice Department will succeed in ‘cleaning up’ the association and forcing it to play fair in the future. And maybe even winning back the 2022 World Cup!