The FIFA Story, Part 1

Written by Andrew Clarke on Wednesday May 27, 2015

We awoke this morning to news that several FIFA officials had been arrested for corruption in ‘dawn raids’ at a Zurich hotel. I’m sure that we woke up a little more gently than those officials who had a knock on their hotel room door!

Initial reports suggest that US authorities suspect some officials have received a total of $100m worth of bribes since the early 1990s. The suspects have been detained pending extradition to the US and the Swiss authorities have already indicated that they can immediately approve extradition. Charges in the FBI investigation are reported to include money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud.

This will no doubt reignite the debate on the level of corruption within sport in general, and football in particular. Transparency International UK carried out a research project on corruption in the UK, which included an analysis of sport. This report written by Professor Michael Macaulay and published in 2011 makes for very interesting reading.

He identified sport as a complex area with various types of corruption risks; from relatively low level cheating to match fixing, use of illegal drugs and bribery. A further risk was “a distinct lack of transparency on anti-corruption activity” due to the self-regulation of many sporting bodies.

This was followed up by publication of ‘Safeguarding the Beautiful Game’ in 2014 to help football club officials prevent match-fixing. 

It will be interesting to see how the FIFA case develops over the coming hours and days. Any bets on how long it will be before ‘offshore’ and ‘complex corporate structure’ are mentioned?

Part 2 can be read here.

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