Early this morning at a five star hotel overlooking The Alps, a bunch of old soccer dudes finally got called out on their rampant fraud.
The old soccer dudes, aka FIFA, are being indicted separately by Switzerland and The United States for various allegations of fraud. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) is soccer’s global governing organization and it holds a firm monopoly on the world’s most beloved sport. It has also been notoriously corrupt for decades.
The fraud, money laundering, racketeering and questionable decision making is not new. Journalists, news anchors like HBO’s rising star John Oliver(Link), and the general populous of Earth’s soccer fandom have been lobbying accusations at FIFA for quite some time now. What is new is that as of this morning those accusations are going to court.
The charges are against fourteen FIFA-related soccer authorities including various soccer officials and marketing executives. Of the fourteen, seven were arrested this morning at their annual FIFA conference by plainclothes Swiss police.
The accused are being indicted by two separate justice systems and nations: Switzerland and The United States. The charges lobbied by each nation differ, and the arrest was organized simultaneously this morning only to “avoid collusion”. Switzerland will be reviewing accusations of corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process. The United States Department of Justice, led by the newly installed Loretta Lynch, is bringing to court accusations of racketeering, money laundering, and wire tapping.
In various official statements, including one written by FIFA President Sepp Blatter posted to their website, FIFA maintained they are part of the ‘injured party’. FIFA apparently alleges that they have been and will continue to clean up football’s act. They affirmed their support for all investigations and efforts by The US and Switzerland to weed corruption out of football. FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter writes:
As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football…While there will be many who are frustrated with the pace of change, I would like to stress the actions that we have taken and will continue to take. In fact, today’s action by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General was set in motion when we submitted a dossier to the Swiss authorities late last year… We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing. (http://goo.gl/bufwlh)
So, will the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups change host nations?
There is much speculation. And of course, time will tell. But apparently it’s not likely.
The 2018 World Cup is set to go down in Russia and The 2022 World Cup is currently allocated to Qatar. Both World Cup host nations were announced on December 2, 2010. And from that day forward until now, there has been rampant accusations of bribing the bids. FIFA reviewed the accusations in November, and concluded there was not enough evidence. Their materials for investigation were then turned over to Swiss authorities, who will use them in their investigation.
Beyond bribing, Qatar has repeatedly made international headlines due to the horrific treatment and conditions levied against the migrant workers building the infastructure. Human rights workers worldwide have called for an end to Qatar’s World Cup due to the already staggering number of deaths caused by unsafe conditions for the mostly migrant and undocumented workers.
But despite all this, FIFA and various officials worldwide maintain the World Cups will play out as planned in Russia and Qatar.