Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA): The Dark Art of Corruption | The Financial Express

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

With any multi-billion-dollar organization comes controversy, sources of income, incentive, and intentions, are all in question, especially because they are large stakeholders in the future of the sport that is beloved worldwide.

Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA): The Dark Art of Corruption
FIFA may seem like an overarching entity to some, they most definitely do not set the rules for the beautiful game. (Photo source: CBC)

By Satvik Shubham

FIFA, a governing body of futsal, beach football, and most prominently, association football. Founding in 1904 to provide an oversight to international games, the body now consists of 211 national associations. While FIFA may seem like an overarching entity to some, they most definitely do not set the rules for the beautiful game. However, they do enforce such in their competitions. One of the main financial streams for the organization would be through sponsorship income, earned through tournaments and other competitions run by the federation. In fact, FIFA had a positive net revenue stream of ($1.2bn) for the 2015-2018, a lucrative sum coming from sponsorship deals and other off-field ventures.

With any multi-billion-dollar organization comes controversy, sources of income, incentive, and intentions, are all in question, especially because they are large stakeholders in the future of the sport that is beloved worldwide. The governing body has been linked to scandals including rigging, corruption, bribery, and incentivized selection for two decades.

(Photo source: FIFAWorldCup Twitter)

Now onto the real meat of the matter, the acts of corruption that FIFA have allegedly committed. Well, speculation recently arose once again, when the location of the FIFA World Cup 2022 was announced as Qatar in 2010. Despite this happening 12 years ago, as the date edged closer, many began questioning not only the location, but also the humane (lack-of) nature of infrastructure building for the massive event. For around 8 years, Russia and Qatar have been suspects of a scandal that involved bribery, in their charge to host the sought-after competition. In October 2021, the United States Department of Justice stated that representatives of the two nations had bribed FIFA, to secure victory in their bid for the respective competitions. Qatar, a tiny state with scorching temperatures, won the bid over the United States, in a selection of votes, which included two officials that had sold their say in the bid for an unconfirmed sum. While the 2018 World Cup in Russia was also under scrutiny, Qatar faced newfound backlash, once it was discovered that it would be a ‘winter World Cup’, starting in November and ending in December.

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Now onto the faces of corruption when it comes to this federation: Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. Blatter is a Swiss football official, who was president of FIFA from 1998-2015, while Michel Platini has a slightly different legacy, regarded by many as one of the best football players ever, winning the coveted Ballon d’or three times, and known for being President of UEFA from 2007-2016. While neither men are strangers to controversy, they have been under fire for a plethora of reasons, Blatter for his history of financial mismanagement and overall corruption, and Platini for similar reasons including ethics violations.

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Firstly, assessing Sepp Blatter, a man who had been accused of many instances of budget misallocation in his long career. An example would be an allegation regardingFIFA’s partnership with ISL, which collapsed, leading to a (-$100m) result for the organization. However, the dossier given to the Swiss authorities led to little backlash for the President, with FIFA having to pay the cost.

When it comes to Platini, he was banned in 2015 due to an ethics violation by FIFA, in a ban that was to last until 2023. He and Blatter were formally investigated for the matter, and for a supposed payment made by Blatter of ($2m) to Platini, prior to his run for FIFA President. On 21 December 2015, both Blatter and Platini were both found to be guilty of the ethics violations, which led to a ban from the sport until 2023.

The 2015 Corruption case was one of the biggest, if not the biggest scandal for the organization. In May 2014, 14 people were charged by the FBI with racketeering and money laundering at the body. Many allegations were at the center of this, from a claim that Qatari officials paid FIFA ($1.5m) to be the host nation for the 2022 World Cup, to claims of Nike paying upwards of ($40m) to be the main merchandise provider to the Brazil National Team at the coveted competition. Prior to these allegations, there was some concrete backing, with former FIFA President Joao Havelange being found to take bribes of millions, from companies claiming television rights for the 2002 and 2006 World Cup.

Despite these allegations and mounds of controversy that FIFA have found them in, why is this important in the present day? Well, as of July 2022, both Blatter and Platini have been cleared of all legal charges, since at the end of the day, shady allegations are not concrete. The prosecutors had initially accused the two former FIFA officials of unlawfully arranging a deal of ($2m) that would see Platini on the gaining side. Both men have come forward stating that ‘justice had been served’, despite many supporting claims stating otherwise. However, as a whole, FIFA is an organization that is not shy to the occasional allegation and corruption claim, mainly connected with bribery and the FIFA World Cup, the current FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, is seen as a common enemy to Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter, who have claimed that Infantino is attempting to destroy their reputations.

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

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

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