So, FIFA is awful. This we know. This we established. However, it took a U.S.-led investigation to finally infiltrate the Mothership, which has since started to implode, beginning with the resignation of FIFA president, Sepp Blatter.
In fact, things have gotten so bad, that FIFA announced today that it has put the 2026 World Cup bidding process on hold.
In the wake of arrests and indictments, more details have come forth, showing just how corrupt FIFA has been. And with the repeated assurance from U.S. authorities that their investigation is still ongoing, don’t expect the trickle of FIFA scandals to end any time soon.
It can all get a little complicated between Blatter’s No. 2 involved with less-than-kosher payments and the admissions of bribes for World Cup votes, so allow us to breakdown the bad that’s been uncovered so far:
May 27: FIFA officials are arrested and indicted for two-decades worth of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.
The big Kahuna that gets the (soccer) ball rolling: A number of FIFA officials are arrested in a Zurich hotel on behalf of U.S. authorities. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Justice announce a 47-count indictment of 14 defendants surround the various aforementioned charges.
May 27: The Swiss announce separate probes into Russia and Qatar World Cup bids.
The Swiss announced they are launching separate investigations into the bids of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup respective hosts, Qatar and Russia, and possible money laundering. Both of which, by the way, are already the focus of criticism and backlash for, you know, just a little human rights violation and planned use of prison labor. So let’s add some more (alleged) backroom dealing to the mix, shall we?
June 1: New York Times reports Blatter's No. 2 may be involved in bribe payments.
While Blatter moves to distance himself from the fracas, it quickly proves futile as The New York Times reports less than a week after the initial arrests that his right-hand guy, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, is suspected by U.S. officials of having been involved in a $10 million transaction in 2008. That money, they believe, is part of a bribery accepted by FIFA official Jack Warner in order to help name South Africa the 2010 World Cup host.
Blatter (L) shakes hands with Valcke (R) during the 65th FIFA Congress at Hallenstadion on May 29. (Credit: Getty)
Valcke, who canceled his trip to Canada for the FIFA’s Women’s World Cup because of the maelstrom, has denied he OK’d the payment or that he knew what that $10 million could possibly be for.
“We were just in the middle to make a transfer that was approved by the finance committee,” he said, according to Bloomberg News.
June 3: Former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner says FIFA was involved in Trinidad 2010 elections.
Speaking of Jack. Oh, Jack. To be honest, this list alone could focus on how this guy has completely spiraled since news of the U.S. investigation. First, he claimed that the real reason for the investigation was so the U.S. could hold the World Cup itself this year. He was actually referencing an Onion article.
Not quite, Jack.
In all seriousness, Warner, so far, has come out as the biggest possible offender in this whole FIFA mess. He was previously suspended indefinitely by the soccer organization in 2011 for bribery, too.
Warner is currently a Trinidad and Tobago politician who the Justice Department named and arrested as part of its recent investigation (he was later released on bail). He is also alleged to have taken $10 million in bribes in order to give South Africa the 2010 World Cup.
Perhaps in an effort to protect himself, Warner has now made claims that FIFA interfered in the results of the 2010 Trinidad elections and that he will release an “avalanche” of information about the corruption and wrongdoing within FIFA (Cheers, Jack).
“I will no longer keep secrets for them,” he said in a television address last week. “I reasonably actually fear for my life."
June 3: Unsealed documents show former FIFA official Chuck Blazer admitted to bribes for 1998 and 2010 World Cup votes.
Alongside Jack is his former FIFA pal, Chuck Blazer. Blazer served as Warner’s No. 2 while in the role of Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football’s general secretary from 1990 to 2011.
But before Blazer became a chief informant for U.S. investigators (and America’s best-known cat lover), he admitted and pled guilty to ten counts in 2013 that included taking bribes in order for South Africa to become host of the 2010 World Cup as well as in 1992, ahead of France being named the 1998 host. Those admissions were unsealed on June 3 in court documents.
Blatter walks past Chuck Blazer during the 61st FIFA Congress at Hallenstadion on June 1, 2011. (Credit: Getty)
June 4: Ireland admits to taking FIFA payment to drop legal case surrounding controversial handball.
It wasn’t just payments for World Cup hosting, either. Last week, the head of Ireland’s soccer association admitted, during a radio interview with RTE, to taking 5 million (or $7.5 million) payment in 2010 from FIFA in order to drop a legal battle over a controversial handball.
That handball came from former France player Thierry Henry during the second of two World Cup play-off matches in 2009 against Ireland that ultimately led to a goal for the French, and a missed 2010 World Cup bid for the Irish.
Nothing a few million dollars can't fix, right, guys? Guys? (Credit: Getty)
The Football Association of Ireland has since published a timeline of the FIFA discussions and payments. Ireland’s soccer boss will not face questioning before Irish parliament over the matter, the BBC reported.
June 5: Report says Germany gave grenades for 2006 World Cup backing.
And let’s been honest, what goes better with world-class soccer than, arms dealings? Oh, yes, because there’s that, too.
According to a report published last week by German newspaper, Die Zeit, the country’s former chancellor supplied Saudi Arabia with ROCKET-PROPELLED GRENADES in exchange for support for Germany to host the 2006 World Cup.
A German official denied any wrongdoing, saying their successful bid brings "nothing to be ashamed of. "
June 7: Report shows Morocco, not South Africa, should have been awarded the 2010 World Cup.
And if after all this, you’re still able and want to keep the image of the World Cup as a global event, bringing together the world’s population to cheer on the greatest ever to play the world’s game, then just stop reading now. If you want to forever associate the tournament with adorable children, faces painted waving flags with dreams of being the next Messi or Neymar, then again. Stop. Reading. Now.
Because basically the World Cup has just been a source of (alleged) corruption for, at least, over 20 years. In addition to Blazer and Warner taking bribes for the World Cup, another report from The Sunday Times found that Morocco actually received the most votes and should’ve been host to the 2010 World Cup.
Sucks for Morocco, right? Wrong. Because money truly is what makes the World Cup go ‘round and they also offered bribes for hosting rights. The only problem? Their $$$ wasn’t as $$$$$$ as South Africa’s $$$$$$$$$.
June 8: Reports say Warner is being investigated for taking money from Haiti earthquake relief.
The list literally goes on and on with Warner, as the Times looked into, even extending to his sons, who are also working with authorities after pleading guilty themselves on similar charges.
But most recent is news that Warner is now being investigated by the U.S. about possible fraud regarding $750,000 he raised from both FIFA and Korea’s soccer association.
Best/worst moment of the Jack Warner saga? When he more or less compared himself to Gandhi and Mandela. Seriously. That happened.
Really can't say it better than, G.O.A.T. Bob Ley.
So just to recap: Through admissions, allegations and various reports, the 1998, 2006, 2010, 2018 and 2022 World Cups are all facing scrutiny. The FBI, in addition to the Swiss, are also looking into Russia and Qatar’s 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, which would be in addition to their original investigation of FIFA’s corrupt practices.
Throw in U.S. authorities also looking into contracts surrounding Brazil’s 2014 World Cup and claims of Jack Warner meddling once again, this time with officials in the 2002 World Cup, and there’s not one tournament safe from corruption.
FIFA is just the worst. And it likely only has further to fall.