FIFA is abhorrently corrupt. This is no longer a hot take nor is it merely a strong opinion had by those who have covered the beautiful game for any significant length of time. The events that have unfolded during the final week of May 2015, which have included numerous arrests and accusations of bribes worth literally hundreds of millions of dollars, have rocked the footballing world in ways that not even the biggest FIFA cynic could have imagined just weeks away from the start of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. All eyes are now on current FIFA president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, who has not yet been implicated in the current case.
The latest scandal to hit FIFA, one that will hopefully result in necessary improvements forever altering the biggest governing body in world football, has brought with it some humorous and ridiculous details. There is nothing funny, however, about the real effects that the corrupt organization has had on lives around the world. Mr. Blatter and others running FIFA have gotten away with far too much for far too long, and it is time for players, football federations, countries and also advertisers to demand that the organization goes through unprecedented overhauls in a true and meaningful attempt to clean up the game that so many love.
15. Sepp Blatter doesn’t know famous female footballers
United States Women’s National Team player Alex Morgan is not just a talented player. She has served as a cover model, she has been featured in multiple advertising campaigns, and Morgan is expected to be one of the faces of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. It was thus somewhat shocking when Morgan said the following during an interview with Time in May 2015: “At the FIFA World Player of the Year event, FIFA executives and FIFA president Sepp Blatter didn’t know who I was.” That was not a first for Mr. Blatter, who reportedly once confused the now-wife of USWNT star Abby Wambach Sarah Huffman for Brazilian international Marta. For those wondering: The two women do not look all that much alike.
14. Real sexism
Mr. Blatter either forgetting the name of or not recognizing a face belonging to a player is one thing. Forcing the best female footballers on the planet to perform on artificial turf during what is supposed to be the world’s top tournament is quite another, and yet that is what FIFA will be doing at the 2015 World Cup. Turf has been a proven nightmare for female and male players, causing everything from turf burn to serious injuries such as torn ACLs. Would the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo be expected to play a World Cup on turf in 2015? Not likely.
13. Still no real racism punishments
It is hardly a secret that racism occurring inside of stadiums during matches and outside of sporting venues before and after contest has plagued the beautiful game for far too long. While speaking with FIFA.com in January 2013, Sepp Blatter had the following to say on the matter: “Playing a game without spectators is one of the possible sanctions, but the best would be the deduction of points and the relegation of a team, because finally the club is responsible for their spectators.” No real push has been made to enforce such a harsh punishment in any top-flight leagues or major competitions, however, as ugly incidents happened in multiple countries as recently as the first half of 2015.
12. What’s in a name?
One point that has been made clear by the latest FIFA arrests is that the corruption goes far and beyond those who only fall beneath that organization’s umbrella. Nicolas Leoz is just one example. The Paraguayan was the president of CONMEBOL from 1986 to 2013, and he has been linked with several scandals. Among then, Leoz was, according to the Daily Mail, accused in 2011 of asking to receive an honorary knighthood for supporting England’s World Cup bid. Emails, which leave a trail even if you press the “delete” button, would later show that Leoz had actually requested that the FA Cup be named in his honor; seriously. He reportedly wanted the FA Cup renamed after him.
11. Joao Havelange
While eyes throughout the footballing world are currently on Sepp Blatter – perhaps to make sure that he doesn’t try to ride off into the sunset when nobody is looking – he is hardly the first powerful FIFA head to find himself in hot water. Joao Havelange was elected president of FIFA in 1974, a post that he held through 1998. It was not until April of 2013 that FIFA ethics court judge Joachim Eckert announced that Havelange and his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, among others, had accepted bribe money over a period of eight years. No worries, though, as taking bribes was not a crime in Switzerland at that time. You can’t make these things up.
10. Sepp Blatter replaces Havelange
Sepp Blatter did not, if accusations on the matter are accurate, wait long to bend the rules while at the top of the FIFA world. A piece published by The Guardian in 1999 cited a book about FIFA entitled “How They Stole the Game” which described how Blatter came to power. David Yallop, author of the book, claimed that 20 leading figures in the game allegedly took a million dollars worth of gifts, or bribes, to help turn the election in favor of Blatter. Blatter, as reported by The Observer, reacted as would any innocent individual: He tried to have the book banned.
9. When FIFA goes political
Those running the Clinton Foundation may want to reconsider who they take gifts from in the future. After it was announced to the world that 14 FIFA officials had been indicted, the New York Post and also other outlets reported that FIFA had donated somewhere between $50,001 and $100,000 to the charity that is headed by former President Bill Clinton, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea. That same foundation has come under fire in the past for accepting massive donations from countries such as Saudi Arabia.
8. How much a non-profit is worth
Just as was the case with the National Football League until earlier in 2015, FIFA is currently able to operate under a non-profit status. That is probably for the best for an organization that is so financially strapped following all that has occurred over the past 12 months. According to an official financial report released by FIFA earlier this year, it was learned that the organization turned a $2.6 billion profit over the past four-year Men’s World Cup cycle. It has recently been claimed that FIFA currently holds cash reserves that total around $1.3 billion.
7. Qatar 2022
Even before it was learned that Qatar had officially been guaranteed the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, whispers had begun swirling around the footballing world that the process had been compromised. While there have been multiple pieces of evidence to suggest that the bidding contests for both the 2022 and 2018 World Cup, the latter being won by Russia, were not on the level, an internal ethics investigation run by FIFA found there at those two bids had not been compromised even though the organization did admit that some were guilty of wrongdoing. It now, heading into the summer of 2015, seems that it is a matter of when and not if the 2022 bid will, at some point, go to a re-vote.
6. What about the Qatar “cooling technology?”
One of the reasons that so many were so confused as to how Qatar could possibly host a World Cup is that the event would take place from June-July, when average temperatures in the region are over 106F. That does not even account for extreme highs. Qatar introduced a solution while bidding for the rights to host the 2022 World Cup: Revolutionary cooling technology that would work in stadiums and other areas. That sounded great at the time, but the dates of the Qatar World Cup have since been changed so that the event will be held in November and December for the “safety” of fans and of athletes. That seems rather convenient.
Sepp Blatter has, throughout his reign as FIFA president, proven himself to be a friend for all people. He reminded the world of that fact in December of 2010 after it was learned that Qatar would be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, when he publicly said the following about homosexual fans attending that event: “I’d say they [gay fans] should refrain from any sexual activities.” Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, but that did not stop FIFA from allowing the country to submit a bid for what is supposed to be the biggest party in world football and an event that is open to all.
4. 2011 FIFA Presidential Election
Mohamed bin Hammam had been a FIFA Executive Member since 1996 when he stated in 2011 that he was considering opposing Sepp Blatter in that year’s FIFA Presidential Election. Months after that announcement, FIFA launched an investigation that ultimately found Bin Hammam guilty of bribing voters in exchange votes. Bin Hammam abandoned his FIFA campaign even before the outcome of the investigation was made public, and Blatter, with no Bin Hammam there as opposition, was re-elected unopposed. FIFA has since handed two lifetime bans to Bin Hammam, who has claimed that the 2011 investigation was only about keeping him from running against Blatter.
3. Sepp’s broken promise
One irony about this breaking FIFA news hitting before Sepp Blatter was up for re-election at the end of May 2015 is that he was not, according to his own words, even supposed to be up for the gig at this point of his life in the first place. Blatter stated the following on the matter in March 2011: “You know I aspire to another four years, [but] these will be the last years for which I stand as candidate.” Blatter was also credited with saying: “Don’t forget that football is a game and that when one is playing, he always tries to cheat a little bit. Together we have the task of bringing together the adventure we have started.” It all seems to be coming together, indeed.
2. The cat man with the plan
The New York Daily News gave an early glimpse in November 2014 of what was to come in May 2015 when it reported that US soccer executive Chuck Blazer had been flipped to work as an informant for both the FBI and IRS. Blazer was a key figure in helping the FBI build its case, as years of extravagant living that came from the executive choosing to not follow certain laws had eventually caught up with him. At one point, Blazer reportedly utilized a Trump Tower apartment mainly as a home for his cats! Football fans everywhere may owe those cats big-time, as who knows what we may or may not have learned if not for Blazer’s love of his felines.
1. Human toll
Football fans can chuckle about cats living it up in a condo or about a man thinking he can literally buy the naming rights to a competition such as the FA Cup. There are no jokes to be made about the staggering amount of lives that have been lost in Qatar as the country prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Guardian reported a total death tally among Qatar workers from 2012 through 2013 to be at 964. The International Trade Union Confederation estimated in a report released in March 2014 that the number had risen to 1,200 deaths. The ITUC also projected that 4,000 Qatar workers in total could die before the 2022 World Cup begins.
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