No Fair Play for FIFA

Isn’t it nice to obtain a significant amount of cash? We all desire to have large sums of money stashed in our packets, and when we do acquire the money that we so dearly want, we can get a bit excited. We become very animated, and at times feel the need to “make it rain,” meaning that we throw our hard earned cash in the air as if we were the richest individuals on earth. Now, while imitating Fat Joe may be fun and all, some people don’t find this process amusing, especially when someone else is doing it right in front of your face. Sepp Blatter, the long reigning president of FIFA, surely didn’t enjoy when comedian Simon Brodkin “made it rain” on Blatter and threw fake money at him during his first conference after confirming that he would be stepping down from the top job in football.

Throughout his presidency, Sepp Blatter also has not been the happiest when FIFA, the Federation International Football Association, leadership was linked with corruption and bribery. Over the past twenty years, FIFA has been accused of corruption, involving bids for World Cups, as well as marketing and broadcast deals. FIFA has been in the spotlight for many years; however, beginning in May of 2015, the federation began to be ferociously investigated and exposed. On May 27, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland, seven senior FIFA officials, including vice presidents Jeffrey Webb and Eugenio Figueredo were arrested and faced with charges of wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. Swiss authorities detained these men on behalf of United States authorities, and these individuals were found to be taking part in FIFA’s 100 million dollar fraud campaign which dates back to several decades. Competitions in the CONCACAF, The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, region, as well as competitions organized by the Brazilian National Soccer Federation were also investigated. Moreover, a major U.S. sportswear company was investigated, due to the company receiving bribes in connection with the sponsorship of the Brazil Football Confederation.

One of the biggest reveals during this large investigation was the corruption involving the bidding process for the World Cup. Every four years, the FIFA World Cup takes place, the largest international competition in soccer, and countries desperately want the event to take place in their homeland, as the tournament brings tourism, investments, and overall large sums of money to the country. The bidding process is supposed to be a fair game; however, for years the process has been corrupt, as countries are battling against each other, trying to generate revenue that the tournament brings. Swiss federal prosecutors, soon after arresting several FIFA officials, began investigating the bidding process, related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which as it currently stands will take place in Russia and Qatar. There has been speculation over the potentially unfair process; however, it has been decided that there will be no 2018 and 2022 World Cup revotes. Also, adding to the heat, a whistleblower claimed the she witnessed several African FIFA officials receiving bribes of 1.5 million dollars to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

However, even after the investigation, which succeeded in cracking down on the governing body of soccer, Sepp Blatter still managed to to win reelection as the president of FIFA. Blatter was elected the president of FIFA for the first time in 1998, and since has been reelected four times, even though he has been accused of financial mismanagement and corruption. Several days after the US government indicted FIFA officials for corruption and bribery, Blatter announced that he would call for elections to choose a new president of FIFA, that he would he would not take part in. Blatter also planned to keep his position until the election took place; however, criminal proceedings were announced against Blatter in September of 2015 by the Swiss Attorney General’s Office regarding criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. The investigation resulted in Blatter, as well as other top FIFA officials, being suspended. As well as being suspended, Blatter has also been banned from taking part in any FIFA activities for the next eight years. Elections for a new FIFA president take place the 26th of this month, and candidates Gianni Infantino of Switzerland; Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa; Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa of Bahrain; Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan; and Jérôme Champagne of France are running for the position.