The Fall of FIFA’s King

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Staggering allegations of corruption against FIFA related to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has led to widely publicized demonstrations in streets of Brazil against the association’s profiteering at the expense of taxpayer dollars. The executive body of la Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) or the International Federation of Association Football was brought to shame in front of its member countries.

Based on the indictments by the U.S Department of Justice of nine high-ranking officials and five corporate executives on charges including racketeering and money laundering, several officials were arrested over the past month by Swiss authorities. These arrests launched a simultaneous criminal investigation into the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar – whose reports of human rights abuse have drawn condemnation from across the world. Following the arrest of several high profile officials, the organization has claimed that it will now comply with any evidence of bribery and corruption in the decisions to host the next two world cups; Russia and Qatar’s hosting rights may be invalidate if evidence emerges of bought votes.

Although almost everybody in the world of soccer knew about the allegations against FIFA, hardly anyone was expecting or prepared for the legal consequences—least of all FIFA President Sepp Blatter, as was evidenced by the organization’s initial dismissal of the widespread nature of the charges against it. Few were surprised when United States officials managed to link his top deputy to a series of payments believed to be bribes, and several officers mentioned under the condition of anonymity that they were hoping to win the cooperation of some of the officials currently under indictment in their efforts to build a case against Blatter. Backed into corner, the president of the world governing body of soccer for 17 consecutive years announced his resignation from the organization he had served in various roles for 40 years, almost half his life. Culminating a series of events that began two weeks ago with a police raid at a five-star hotel, Mr. Blatter delivered his resignation speech in French to a mostly empty room at the FIFA headquarters. He spoke his piece and left without taking any questions.

Despite having won re-election on the 29th of May, Blatter received a halfhearted response after underestimating the growing anger of FIFA’s electorate and the growing discomfort of sponsors including Coco-Cola following mounting public pressure on the association’s corporate sponsors to claim responsibility for its actions. This prompted him to resign at the behest of his advisers. Blatter issued a public announcement tendering his resignation as president; the aftershocks of the corruption scandal following his resignation continued to reverberate among the media; claims arose in Germany that the 2006 World Cup was influenced by a shipment of rocket-propelled grenades, and votes were “deliberately miscounted” before South Africa was awarded the right to host the 2010 world cup (allegedly Morocco was supposed to have won the ballot). The number of instances of corruption and bribery is expected to increase as whistleblowers come forward with claims that Russia and Qatar purchased the right to host the upcoming World Cups, the coming few months will play a deciding role in the fate of soccer over the next decade.

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