Soccer’s international governing body FIFA has been caught up in a scandal that has rocked the football world. Fourteen people in total, including seven high ranking FIFA officials, were arrested on May 26 in allegations of corruption and racketeering that have even caused the notoriously corrupt organization to gasp and recoil in horror. Even United States’ IRS official Richard Weber is weighing in, calling the scandal the “World Cup of Fraud.”
The fourteen people arrested include Jeffrey Webb, the head of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), ironically and outspoken critic of corruption, Jack Warner, another top official with CONCACAF, Eugenio Figueredo of CONCACAF’s South American counterpart, CONMEBOL, Eduardo Li, President of the Costa Rican federation, Nicolas Leoz, who had already resigned two years ago following bribery accusations, and Jose Maria Marin, former president of Brazil’s soccer federation. For a full list of people facing charges, click here. FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, was not named in Wednesday’s indictment.
FIFA has long been known as having large amounts of corruption within its ranks, with three top officials, including former president Jack Blazer, having previously plead guilty to similar charges. This scandal even connects to another scandal, the Clinton Foundation donor scandal, and being tied to the notoriously corrupt Clintons certainly can’t help either side.
The charges will include whether or not bribes were taken in media and marketing deals worldwide, whether or not host countries were chosen based on bribes, including the 2010 World Cup, wire fraud, racketeering, and good old fashioned money laundering. There are also concerns that the corruption may extend to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”
The corruption allegations come at a time of intense scrutiny already focused on FIFA for the upcoming Russian-hosted World Cup in 2018, thanks to the increased belligerence of the nation as well as their plans to use prison labor for construction of facilities. The Qatar-hosted World Cup in 2022 hasn’t fared much better, with the nation using slavery for their own construction, as well as insanely bigoted statements made by Qatari Sports Minister Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali against members of the LGBTQ community.
Additionally, a year ago, another probe was completed by American attorney Michael J. Garcia regarding the bidding process. When he turned over his findings of corruption to FIFA, they attempted to cover up the findings. In fact, the head judge of the ethics committee discounted the findings completely, saying that the “integrity of the vote remained intact.”