In the summer of 2015, US authorities indicted 14 powerful constituents associated withe the FIFA governing body, including two FIFA vice presidents and five corporate executives. The indictments were issued for 47 different counts of criminality, including wire fraud, racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, and corruption. The 14 individuals in question were arrested at a luxury hotel in Zurich at the behest of US authorities in the May of 2015. The arrests seemed to be a step in the right direction for governing bodies in regards to FIFA, as fans around the world rejoiced in the the idea that the infamously corrupt FIFA doesn’t completely operate outside the rule of law. This begs the questions; how much did these arrests accomplish? Is FIFA any cleaner today than it was in 2015? With mistrust in governing counsels marring the Qatar 2022 bid, I set out to research whether FIFA has changed its ways since the explosive crackdown in 2015.
Most corruption in FIFA surrounds bribery, corporations and powerful individuals paying off soccer federations and FIFA to secure rights to advertise, televise, or host soccer matches. In 2015, the major scandal was a payment of $10 million from the South African Football Association to Jack Warner, the head of CONCACAF. This payment allegedly helped South Africa secure their bid to host the World Cup in 2010. Several years later, the legitimacy of World Cup bidding is still under question. The 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar, a small, oil-rich nation that borders Saudi Arabia. The football community was up in arms over the announcement. How could the world’s greatest sports tournament be awarded to a country smaller than Switzerland, with little to no football history or pedigree?
Immediately, allegations of corruption and bribery were levied against Sepp Blatter and other high-level FIFA constituents. Right after the announcement, a whistleblower from within the bid counsel released that there had been corruption and political influence tainting the vote, but quickly retracted the comments. In the months after the vote, Qatar’s head representative on the FIFA counsel, Mohammed Bin Hammam, received a lifetime ban from football for conspiracy to rig the 2011 FIFA counsel elections. In addition to the seemingly criminal representatives who organized the bid, the logistical difficulty of hosting soccer matches in Qatar also blemish the validity of the 2022 World Cup. Summer temperatures in Qatar’s desert can reach over 120˚C, making soccer dangerous at best and blatantly unplayable at worst. When viewed comprehensively, Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid stinks of illegitimacy.
Although no charges have been brought against officials (yet), Qatar’s bid appears highly suspicious to even the casual investigator. Unfortunately for soccer fans around the globe, it seems as though FIFA has not changed it’s ways since the last round of arrests in 2015. To the modern day football fan, nothing is certain except for death, taxes, and corruption in FIFA.