By DIANA ZHANG
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), soccer’s international governing body, has for decades been tied up with scandals and corrupt officials.
Two weeks ago, on May 27, fourteen former and current FIFA executives were arrested by Swiss police officers at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, charged with multiple offenses including fraud and money laundering. This followed a US. Department of Justice announcement that FIFA officials had received over $150 million in bribes in past years. This discovery led to a Swiss criminal investigation into the controversial 2018 and 2022 Russia and Qatar World Cup bids.
Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president, also stood accused of taking FIFA’s development money, which was intended for soccer promotions in impoverished countries, and using it for his reelection campaign. Despite recently winning his fifth re-election as FIFA president, Blatter made the decision to resign from his position on Tuesday, June 2.
On Wednesday, June 3, the United States Justice Department released a 40-page document investigating bribery leading to the South African win in the bid to host the 2010 World Cup, with former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner at the center. It accused him, among other things, of taking a $10 million bribe to influence South Africa’s win. Former FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer admitted to the court that he and other FIFA executive committee members took bribes. According to NBC, it was also suggested that FIFA executives had paid Irish soccer authorities over $7 million dollars in a secret negotiation over Ireland’s elimination in the 2010 World Cup due to a missed call by a referee.
The Justice Department’s ongoing investigation is targeting corruption spanning the past 24 years. U.S. prosecutors also added that the FIFA officials who received the $150 million in return provided FIFA media and marketing broadcast rights to the organizations giving the bribes. This has led to questions about whether Russia and Qatar would lose their hosting rights to the next World Cup tournaments. On Thursday, according to TIME, British Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said that England would be willing to be next in line to host the 2022 World Cup if the privilege was taken away from Qatar.