Corruption Casts a Shadow Over Europe's Favourite Sport
“Fifa's Director, Secretary General and Director of Communications are sitting in a car. Who's driving? Answer: The Police,” After telling this joke on air, Fifa's Director of Communications was promptly fired. A harmless joke was too close to the truth, it seems.
Hundreds of accounts, money laundering and bribery. Thats the recipe for football´s upcoming World Championships if you follow the sport from the point of view of FBI documents and Swiss authorities. The corruption scandal around one of the world´s most popular sports isn't showing any signs of dying down. The hullabaloo is focused on one man in particular.
Fifa's accusations of bribery has put football's credibility on trial.
Sepp Blatter, 79, has served different roles for Fifa since the 70's. He´s been chosen as the director of Fifa four times in a row. Under the command of Blatter, Fifa has taken enormous steps in developing the rise of female football. Blatter also brought the World Championships to Africa and Asia in the 21st century.
The Sun King has his dark side though. In last spring´s director elections the prince of Jordania Ali bin al-Hussein, Europe´s Football union Uefa and football legend Michel Platini publicly criticised Blatter´s abuse of his power. Nevertheless, once again Fifa's member association selected Blatter as their director. The scandal began to bubble already. Only three days after his election, Blatter announced that he will be stepping down from the leadership of the union as and when they find his replacement. A replacement has yet to be found.
World leaders voice their opinions
The shine and glory of the task is dimming quickly. Plenty of Fifa's leading officials have been arrested for money laundering and bribery, and North and Central America´s football union has completely renewed their organisation. The scandal has been commented on by authorities ranging from Barack Obama to Europe´s parliament. Football legend Diego Maradona has declared “a battle against Fifa-mafia”, while Russian´s leader Vladimir Putin, whose country won the World Championships from Blatter, thinks Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for the work he has done. Why does football matter so much?
The World Championships are the world's most followed sporting event and that makes it a big business. Fifa profited 2.6 million euros in the last World Championships, which were held in Brazil. Money flowed in from television rights to sponsorship deals. The USA´s Ministry of Justice suspects that Fifa leaders accepted bribes worth 150 million dollars in the negotiations. According to Transparency International when accepting or offering bribes, one can be guilty of corruption when their own or other´s advantage is promoted to achieve unlawful benefit.
Bring the fair game back!
Bribes, domination and rough accusations all reflect that football is much more than a game of 22 players chasing a ball for 90 minutes. Football connects countries more than any other game in the world but these scandals are messing up the public image of football. Fifa reports that they use over $500 000 daily to support football starting from the grass roots. If corruption brings the system down, what will happen to World Championship? Fifa began as a voluntary organisation but has grown over 110 years into a billion dollar business. Upcoming Championships will most likely be organised as planned, but the member countries will carry a heavy weight on their shoulders. They have to build a corruption free organisation that can play a fair game.
Social Media Push: Corruption is taking down kings. What has happened to the world's leading sport? Corruption torments Fifa and the supporters suffer. What will happen to World Championships?
Transparency International is an organisation that monitors corruption and announces a corruption index every year.