Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA): The Dark Art of Corruption

By Satvik Shubham

FIFA, a governing body for futsal, beach football and, most importantly, association football. Founded in 1904 to oversee the international games, the body now consists of 211 national associations. Although FIFA may seem like a global entity to some, it certainly does not set the rules for the beautiful game. However, they enforce that in their competitions. One of the organization’s main financial streams would be sponsorship revenue, earned through tournaments and other competitions held by the federation. In fact, FIFA recorded a positive net revenue stream of ($1.2 billion) for the period 2015-2018, a lucrative sum from sponsorship deals and other off-pitch projects.

Any multi-billion dollar organization comes with controversy, sources of income, incentives and intentions are all questioned, especially as they are big stakeholders in the future of the sport which is enjoyed in the whole world. The governing body has been linked to scandals such as rigging, bribery, bribery and incentive selection for two decades.

Now let’s move on to the real subject, the acts of corruption that FIFA allegedly committed. Well, speculation resurfaced recently, when the venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup was announced in Qatar in 2010 (lack of) nature of building infrastructure for the massive event. For about 8 years, Russia and Qatar have been suspected of a scandal involving bribes, in their charge of hosting the coveted competition. In October 2021, the United States Department of Justice said that representatives of both nations had bribed FIFA, to secure victory in their bids for the respective competitions. Qatar, a small state with scorching temperatures, won the bid over the United States, in a voting selection that included two officials who had sold their say in the bid for an unconfirmed sum. While the 2018 World Cup in Russia was also under scrutiny, Qatar faced yet another backlash, once it was discovered it would be a ‘Winter World Cup’ , beginning in November and ending in December.

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Now let’s move on to the faces of corruption as far as this federation is concerned: Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. Blatter is a Swiss football official, who served as FIFA President from 1998 to 2015, while Michel Platini has a slightly different heritage, considered by many to be one of the greatest football players of all time, winning the very coveted Ballon d’Or winner three times, and known for serving as UEFA president from 2007 to 2016. While neither man is a stranger to controversy, they have been criticized for a plethora of reasons, Blatter for his track record of financial mismanagement and global corruption, and Platini for similar reasons, including ethics violations.

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First, assess Sepp Blatter, a man who had been accused of numerous cases of budget misallocation during his long career. An example would be an allegation regarding FIFA’s partnership with ISL, which collapsed, resulting in a loss (-$100m) for the organization. However, the file handed over to the Swiss authorities provoked little negative reaction for the president, with FIFA having to pay the costs.

As for Platini, he was banned in 2015 due to an ethics violation by FIFA, as part of a ban that was to last until 2023. He and Blatter were the subject of a formal investigation into this and for an alleged payment made by Blatter of ($2). m) to Platini, before his run for the presidency of FIFA. On December 21, 2015, Blatter and Platini were both found guilty of ethics violations, which led to a ban from the sport until 2023.

The 2015 corruption case was one of the organization’s biggest, if not the biggest scandal. In May 2014, 14 people were charged by the FBI with racketeering and bodily money laundering. Many allegations were at the center of this, ranging from a claim that Qatari officials paid FIFA ($1.5m) to host the 2022 World Cup, to claims that Nike paid over $40 million to be the main merchandise supplier to the Brazil national team at the coveted competition. Prior to these allegations, there was concrete support, with former FIFA president Joao Havelange taking kickbacks from millions of companies claiming television rights for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

Despite these allegations and the mounds of controversy in which FIFA has found them, why does it matter these days? Well, as of July 2022, Blatter and Platini have been cleared of all legal charges, because ultimately the shady allegations aren’t concrete. Prosecutors initially accused the two former FIFA officials of illegally striking a $2 million deal that would see Platini on the winning side. Both men came forward saying that “justice has been served”, despite numerous supporting claims claiming otherwise. However, overall FIFA is an organization that does not shy away from making occasional allegations and allegations of corruption, mostly related to corruption and the FIFA World Cup, the current FIFA President , Gianni Infantino, is seen as a common enemy of Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter, who claimed Infantino was trying to destroy their reputation.

The author is an aspiring journalist going to Michigan State University through 2026, building his portfolio while simultaneously pursuing a degree in journalism.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the position or official policy of Financial Express Online. Reproduction of this content without permission is prohibited.

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