The FIFA Story, Part 2 – Now the dust has settled

Written by Andrew Clarke on Friday July 17, 2015

I finished my previous blog by saying that it would be interesting to see how the FIFA case develops - perhaps on reflection a comment on the patently obvious! Now the initial media frenzy has settled down it gives us a chance to review the allegations. 

For me, with my financial crime background in law enforcement, the FIFA prosecution highlights the striking disclosure differences between the US and most other countries (including the UK) when it comes to revealing a prosecution case. Whereas we would have to settle for a few comments from the CPS/SFO, and an outraged defence lawyer standing on the steps of the Crown Court protesting his client’s innocence whilst alleging a conspiracy of malicious intent to besmirch his good name, ad nauseam (only to subsequently plead guilty at the last minute); in the United States you can actually view the complete indictment online! 

Here are some of the main points I have drawn from the report:

  • Defendants corrupted FIFA by engaging in various criminal activities, including fraud, bribery, and money laundering, in pursuit of personal gain.
  • To further their corrupt ends, the defendants and their co-conspirators provided one another with mutual aid and protection.
  • The damage inflicted by the defendants was far-reaching; it also deprived national teams, youth leagues, and development programs from financial support.
  • The corruption of the enterprise became endemic. 
  • Other defendants came to power in the wake of scandal, promising reform. Rather than repair the harm done, however, these defendants quickly engaged in the same unlawful practices that had enriched their predecessors.
  • The defendants relied heavily on the United States financial system in connection with their activities. This reliance was ‘significant and sustained’ and was one of the central means through which they promoted and concealed their schemes.
  • The 47 criminal charges start with engaging in a ‘Racketeering Conspiracy’ (an offence created to eliminate the infiltration of organized crime into legitimate organizations); further offences include Money Laundering, Wire Fraud, Obstruction of Justice, and Tax Evasion.

Have a look… names, dates, criminal schemes, transactions, they are all in there. 

I am not a football fan (wrong shaped ball for me) but I still recognise that the FIFA World Cup is one of the greatest sporting tournaments on earth. We all probably know in our hearts that there is a level of cheating in sport still waiting to be exposed, whether it’s in the form of vote rigging involving bribes, the illicit use of performance-enhancing drugs in athletics, player match fixing/spot fixing, or feigning injury to enable substitutions to be made. 

When it’s actually uncovered the reality of corruption in sport is disheartening, not only for me but also for my son and all the other youngsters out there who look up to their role models.

A personal role model for me has always been Sir Jackie Stewart who has some insightful views on sport, business and life in general. As the title of his excellent autobiography suggests ’Winning Is Not Enough’…The win must be made with integrity.

(Part 3 to follow when I will look at the role of banks as outlined in the Indictment)

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