Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has been in the news this week for all the wrong reasons as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has accused 14 senior officials of corruption charges and collecting bribes that were estimated to be around €150 million. The FBI wants to extradite these officials to the United States and try them for a number of crimes such as illegal wire transfers, money laundering, bribery and racketeering. One of those arrested was former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner who spent the night in a Trinidad jail. Warner also served as Trinidad’s national security minister previously, and is now an opposition member of parliament for Trinidad and Tobago. He can be extradited to the US after a hearing which is scheduled for July 12.
The FBI confirmed that they have been conducting a highly sensitive operation targeting corrupted FIFA officials who may have used their positions to accept bribes and award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. The FBI has also delved into the past and uncovered evidence of corruption going back into the early 2000’s.
U.S. Authorities have not implicated FIFA president Sepp Blatter on any charges even though all these corruption allegations have occurred under his leadership. Blatter has been president of FIFA since 1998 and many believed that the scandal came at the wrong time as re-election process for the FIFA president was fixed for the end of May.
Blatter faced the media on the 28th of May and diplomatically washed his hands of the scandal by saying that there is evil in society and there is evil in FIFA but it will be stopped and dealt with. Blatter told the media that the corruption allegations on senior FIFA officials were embarrassing and humiliating but asked FIFA members to show faith in him as he wanted another opportunity at being FIFA president in order to fix these problems and ensure FIFA is run corruption free.
FIFA members had to choose between Blatter and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan and they re-elected Blatter on the 29th of May and proved that the scandal had not eroded their faith in his leadership. Blatter was happy to be re-elected for another four years and thanked FIFA members for continuing to have faith in him.
In a statement, Blatter said “’I am now the president of everybody. I like you. I like my job. I am not perfect, nobody is perfect, but we will do a good job together I am sure. I thank you that you accepted me for the next four years. I will be in command of this boat called FIFA and we will bring it back off shore and bring it back to the beach.’ ‘I promise you, in the end of my term I will give this FIFA to my successor in a very, very strong position, a robust FIFA and a good FIFA”.