Top FIFA Officials Arrested as Corruption Scandal Unfolds

FIFAs+President%2C+Joseph+Sepp+Blatter%2C+has+come+under+a+lot+of+fire+during+the+investigation%2C+despite+winning+re-election

MCT-Campus

FIFA’s President, Joseph Sepp Blatter, has come under a lot of fire during the investigation, despite winning re-election

Kyle Laska, News Editor

This past Wednesday, the first arrests of FIFA officials were made based on the accepting of bribes over the last couple of decades.

FIFA, Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is the international organization that overlooks the sport of soccer. Soccer is the most popular sport worldwide, with 3.3-3.5 billion fans, according to sporteology.com. With its immense popularity comes immense revenue. The basis of the indictments refers back to 1991, where it is alleged that those accused conspired to receive bribes from marketing firms in exchange for exclusive television contracts. These bribes came out to about $150 million.

The investigation was actually led by the United States Department of Justice. In a statement by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, she said “[the corruption] spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.” As a result of this corruption, 14 men have been, or are planned to be, charged with crimes. These men include the current FIFA vice president and current executive committee members. Although FIFA is a global organization, it should be noted that the indictments deal only with alleged fraud and corruption in North and South America and not corruption that may or may not have occurred in other continents.

One man who was not indicted was FIFA President Joseph Sepp Blatter. In fact, not only was he not indicted, he just won re-election this past Friday. With 209 voting members, he won 133 of those votes. A two-thirds majority is needed to win, so there should’ve been a second round vote. However, the second-place finisher, Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein, conceded before the second round began. This gave Blatter the victory for his fifth consecutive term as president.

Senior soccer players Ryan Pacholski and Kyle Robson, who are both going to play soccer collegiately, are big fans of soccer, both nationally and internationally. When asked about Blatter being re-elected, Pacholski was shocked.

“It just goes to show how corrupt FIFA is. They don’t actually care about making everything ethical because if they did, he would be the first to go. The voters are just worried about their own pockets and it’s frustrating to see,” explained Pacholski.

The arrests come at an interesting time for FIFA, as many are calling for investigations into the legitimacy of Qatar winning the bid for the 2022 World Cup. The World Cup is the biggest international soccer tournament, taking place every four years between the top 32 national teams. It is believed by many that Qatar bought the bid for the World Cup, as dangerous summer temperatures should have taken them out of the running and ensured they could not win the bid. While the recent arrests do not directly correlate to anything with the World Cup, it is expected that investigations will be opened into not only the World Cup, but into corruption in other nations. According to Robson, the investigations should’ve happened a while ago.

“Everyone knows there is corruption, but it’s so centered around money that no one wants to do anything about it because everyone in charge profits. If you were getting paid millions of dollars to be corrupt you aren’t going to complain about others being corrupt. That’s why there are so many countries and people willing to just be quiet. The people who don’t get paid are unhappy, but they have such little power they can’t do anything. It’s a pretty dumb system,” joked Robson.

Robson’s point is one shared by many, precisely because FIFA is set up in a position where corruption is easy. As stated earlier, FIFA has 209 member countries. The interesting thing is that each member has an equal say in voting. That means countries like Germany and Ghana are equal. If small countries have the same voting power as large countries, then the door is left open for corruption to take place, as votes can be purchased. The conspiracies around this theory have existed for a while and the current investigation will only call for more investigations to be made.

“FIFA has a ton of power and that’s not going to change anytime soon. The arrests will definitely work towards FIFA cleaning itself up, but this is just the start. There’s a lot more that needs to be done to truly fix things. This case only deals with the Americas, and I can’t imagine corruption is as large here as it is in places like Europe,” proposed Pacholski.