In The Least Surprising News Ever, FIFA Officials Arrested On Corruption Charges

NY Times:  United States law enforcement officials declared in forceful terms on Wednesday that their broad investigation of FIFA had only begun and pledged to rid the international soccer organization of systemic corruption. The Justice Department, F.B.I. and I.R.S. described soccer’s governing body in terms normally reserved for Mafia families and drug cartels, saying that top officials treated FIFA business decisions as chits to be traded for personal wealth. One soccer official took in more than $10 million in bribes, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said. The schemes involving the fraud included the selection of South Africa as the host of the 2010 World Cup; the 2011 FIFA presidential elections; and several sports-marketing deals. The soccer officials charged are Eduardo Li, Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Jack Warner, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin and Nicolás Leoz.

Some of the payments were funneled through intricate schemes. After committing fraud, bribery and money laundering, prosecutors wrote, defendants covered up those payments in various ways: using fake consulting contracts to funnel illegal payments; sending money through associates working in banking or currency dealing; creating shell companies in tax havens; hiding foreign bank accounts; using safe deposit boxes; and “bulk cash smuggling.” And some payments were old-fashioned bribes, like one involving South Africa’s bid for the 2010 World Cup. Mr. Warner, then a member of the FIFA executive committee, directed an associate to fly to Paris, accept a briefcase full of cash in $10,000 stacks from a South African bid committee member in a hotel room, and return the briefcase to Mr. Warner in Trinidad.

As leaders of FIFA gathered for their annual meeting, more than a dozen plainclothes Swiss law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel, an elegant five-star property with views of the Alps and Lake Zurich. They went to the front desk to get room numbers and then proceeded upstairs. The arrests were carried out peacefully. Several hours after the soccer officials were apprehended at the hotel, Swiss authorities said that they had opened criminal cases related to the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.

Corruption!  Fraud!  Conspiracy!  Bribery!  Scandal!  Laundering!  Smuggling!  Racketeering!  Murder!  Okay fine, not murder.  This news surfaced late last night, and it’s one of the most anticipated actions in recent memory.  Everyone with a brain knew that FIFA was corrupt and that Sepp Blatter was at the forefront of this fiasco.  Although it seems now that he could come out of this relatively unscathed, and in fact may be reelected, all of this activity was done on his watch and under his nose.  He allowed all of this to go on whether he knew about it or not, which he most likely did.  But as I said before, this was basically expected to happen.  There have been allegations for years, especially in the last year.  Every organization has some sort of corruption, and when you take into account that this one governs the entire world, there’s bound to be some foul play.

I will say that it was worse than I thought it would be.  And to my disbelief, most of the allegations and charges are NOT in regards to the World Cup in Qatar.  It’s pretty clear now that Qatar did in fact put out some serious cash to “earn” the 2022 bid, but you can’t fault them.  Qatar literally has nothing going for them except money; they have so much of it that they don’t know what to do with it.  They must sit around all day brainstorming new ideas that their surplus of money can go towards.  And while it’s not acceptable by any means to bribe officials or anyone for that matter, people working under the FIFA name accepted these bids.  The bigger name always takes the bigger hit.  When you’re in the limelight, you have to be aware of every move and avoid any major slip ups.  It was only a matter of time before it all came crashing down.

So where does FIFA go from here?  It’s not practical to start from scratch and replace everyone.  But changes need to be made, that’s as obvious as can be.  Do we have to kill Sepp Blatter?  I wouldn’t be opposed to that.  How do we make sure the voting process moving forward is fair and just?  This country deserves to host the World Cup, more now than ever.  We should have won the bid for 2022, but that’s beside the point.  Soccer has grown tremendously in the United States over the last decade, so one can only hope that we weren’t involved in any of this pish posh and continue on the path towards extreme soccer fandom.

Direct quotes from a blog I wrote on 8/25/14:

  • “There’s a lot of speculation (and that’s putting it nicely) that they essentially “bought” the World Cup, that they bribed that little cocksucker Sepp Blatter and the rest of those FIFA committee boners.”
  • “If you don’t think Qatar paid of the FIFA committee then I don’t know what to tell you other than that you have a huge dump in your pants. It’s as transparent as can be.”

Also, I thought this was hilarious…


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