Given FIFA’s well-known culture of corruption and ethical problems, it’s almost a miracle that Sepp Blatter was finally convinced to resign in June of 2015. But FIFA’s accountability problems aren’t a recent development. FIFA is not exactly an organization that’s a stranger to scandal. The recent Sepp Blatter scorcher was only the latest in a long line of ethical problems for one of the world’s largest, most influential and most notorious sports organizations.
As the saying goes: absolute power corrupts absolutely. To say that FIFA is a powerful organization would be more than an understatement; each World Cup event generates billions of dollars of revenue for the world’s largest football association. By far, television and marketing rights are the biggest money maker for the company. But FIFA’s soulless corporate partners don’t mind the scandals-- they are all more than happy to throw money at FIFA, so long as their advertising messages continue to be broadcast worldwide during commercial breaks.
Perhaps FIFA is just too big to control. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and FIFA nearly has a monopoly over it. FIFA has more member countries than the United Nations and its yearly net profit figures are comparable to Luxembourg’s GDP. Its headquarters are in Zurich, so the association must abide by Swiss laws-- but policing an organization with over a billion dollars of cash reserves isn’t a simple task.
Insiders have known about corruption at FIFA for years, but it took an intervention by the United States FBI to get the ball rolling in the Blatter case. Allegedly Blatter’s plots were hatched on U.S. soil and dirty money flowed through U.S. banks, making it possible for American authorities to intervene. Further U.S.-Swiss cooperation might lead to more revelations, but it could very well be that the punishments inflicted on FIFA executives won’t be enough to change FIFA’s corporate culture in any significant ways. After all, this is an organization whose 111 year history is more than checkered-- it’s absolutely sordid. FIFA executives always seem to be up to something nefarious: lining their own wallets with stolen cash, buying re-election votes, supporting tyrants around the world, ignoring human rights issues and discriminating against minorities are just a few of their most notable offenses.
13 Institutionalized Ticket Scalping
12 Fake It Until You Reform It
11 FIFA’s Filthy Modern Father
10 No Blacks or Asians, Please
9 Cash for Votes: FIFA’s Uncontrollable Blatter Problem
8 That’ll Be $15 Billion, Please
7 Fixed Exhibition Matches
6 The Most Pathetic Match in the History of Football
In 1973, Chile played the easiest game of their lives. The other team (the U.S.S.R.) decided to stay home that day. The problem was political in nature. The new Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was not only torturing his communist opposition, he was using the World Cup soccer stadium as the venue for their detainment. In response to outrage from the Soviets, FIFA performed a superficial investigation of the arena-- a lackadaisical once-over that didn’t even include a full inspection of the entire premises. If the inspectors hadn’t “forgotten” to look in the basement, they would have discovered thousands of gagged prisoners being held there at gunpoint.
5 Torture, Rape and Kidnapping Condoned: Argentina’s Dirty War and the 1978 World Cup
4 Qatar’s Lethal, Inhumane World Cup Construction Project
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