Jun 30, 201504:00 PMCulture
Fun and Culture in the Mid-State
FIFA’s Timely Corruption
At one point or another governing bodies have their issues, whether that is internally or externally. Committees with such power are almost untouchable and play by the made up rules they have created. Though every member of these committees has one main goal in all of this and that is to come out on top with the most capital as humanly possible. These committees include organizations The President of the United States and the government all the way to the commissioner of the National Football League and his executive committee. Corruption is all too often used to describe governing bodies of major organizations. These are the individuals that the majority of the population and the majority of these organizations lean on to lead the way for the success of their entire enterprise. They are the leaders and the importance of solid leadership within a major organization is key to success without it the integrity of the organization is all but lost.
Think about our government here in the United States, there is no way that every single one of those politicians play by every single rule in the rule book. Ironically, they get paid to protect the integrity of those laws and rules but most of the time are ignorant toward them. In the political sphere we even have proof of their corruption with scandals such as the Benghazi incident with Americans being attacked and killed on Libyan soil and the cover up that followed. The cover up was even worse with current presidential nominee Hilary Clinton being at the forefront of the entire situation. Another example would be the infamous Watergate tape and President Nixon’s plan to steal documents from the hotel that the Democratic National Committee was being held at. It goes to show that corruption happens every day. Those who aren’t careful with their affairs can be the ones to really feel the heat when the fed’s show up at the door with a warrant and ask for officials to surrender to them peacefully.
Sepp Blatter and his fellow FIFA counterparts have felt that heat in the past week with the indictment of 14 members of FIFA’s own governing body by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch according to U.S. News and World Report. Blatter, the president of the committee, was not indicted but authorities say he could be next to surrender to FBI agents according to CNN. FIFA had their annual conference known as the FIFA Congress with almost every country that is currently associated with soccer’s governing body in attendance. They held their presidential election to vote for the next president of the organization as well with the incumbent Blatter drawing a lot of the support. Blatter was opposed by FIFA vice president and Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein who is also the brother of the Jordanian king, King Abdullah. Blatter was re-elected as president and took 133 out of the 209 countries or delegations that took part in the voting process. Blatter needed upwards of 140 votes to secure the election initially but did not reach that number in the first round of voting. Al-Hussein received 73 votes, which was three more votes necessary to take it to a second round of voting but before he had that chance al-Hussein dropped out of the race which gave Blatter the win. Al-Hussein put up a great fight and actually received a lot more votes than once predicted especially challenging Sepp Blatter. The Congress continued on as scheduled and was held May 28th and 29th in Zurich, Switzerland which was also the same place the 14 executives were arrested two days before the start of the congress according to CNN.
The executives who were arrested were taken into custody at a nearby hotel in Switzerland by United States FBI agents and were charged with money laundering, bribes, kickbacks and the most serious of all the charges which was racketeering according to The Economist. The scandal involved more than $150 million and the illegal handling of monies from one corrupt hand to another. The money handling involved votes for the host countries of the previous World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and the two forthcoming World Cup’s in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. The World Cup in South Africa in 2010 was supposed to occur in Morocco instead but the money was too good for some FIFA officials to pass up. The officials took a bribe of $10 million to award the cup to South Africa. The deal was votes in exchange for money and it occurred all across the board. Once the U.S. uncovered the conspiracy they had to step in and do something which led to the arrest of the high level executives. The 14 people that were indicted by the U.S. included nine from the FIFA executive ranks and five sports media and marketing executives that work with the organization according to CNN. Because of Blatter’s power and influence prosecutors believe he had a hand in the scandal though he denies any involvement up to this point.
Blatter continues to feel the pressure even after the ending of the conference. He was subsequently re-elected officially at the end of the two day long congress. He also had some very choice words for U.S. authorities and those who assisted with the take down of the soccer’s governing body. Blatter said that he was “not completely surprised” by the U.S. attempt to take down FIFA along with the assistance of other country’s including England. Blatter believes that because England was not awarded the 2018 World Cup and the United States was not awarded the 2022 World Cup they were holding that against him and the organization according to The Economist. Both countries tried to figure out why they were not awarded the world’s largest soccer event and began uncovering a lot of what they already expected was happening behind FIFA’s closed doors. Swiss authorities opened up a separate investigation of how the World Cups were actually awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively according to CNN. Blatter also stated, "If the Americans want to get involved in money or common law offenses relating to North and South American citizens, they should arrest them there, but not in Zurich when there is a congress" according to CNN. Blatter pointed out the association of the United States within this last election, "Let us not forget that they are the number one sponsor of the Hashemite Kingdom (of Jordan), therefore of my adversary (Prince Ali)," according to CNN.
As of now the investigations continue into the next two World Cup’s and the 14 executives that have been indicted by U.S. FBI agents respectively. Though charges have been filed, the corruption within the organization began a long time ago. Allegations started to arise around when Qatar was named the location of the 2022 World Cup over the United States. Qatar, an undeveloped country with a lack of serious infrastructure, has been preparing for the event since the day it was named the next location of the World Cup. To build up the country it will take all eight years plus a little more since the cup was moved to November of 2022. The reason it was moved was because of the extreme heat that the country encounters during the summertime when soccer’s most popular event usually occurs. This is just the first issue that the 2022 games has faced, not to mention the human rights violations the country has had to deal with. The allegations that have been swirling around the choice of Qatar as the host nation and the practices Qatar has been using to build up the country have been deemed unethical. This is a representation of how corrupt and misguided FIFA has become toward the world’s most beloved sport and the people who work so hard to keep it elite.
Qatar’s World Cup bid faces a mountain of serious issues that they must try to climb and conquer leading up to the 2022 event. To build the necessary amount of stadiums, hotels and even cities Qatar had to purchase laborers from several different countries and ship them into the country to build these state of the art stadiums. A human rights agency estimates that more than 4,000 imported construction workers will lose their life while attempting to build these new space age stadiums in Qatar according to Business Insider. The International Trade Union Confederation reports that 1,200 foreign workers from countries such as Nepal and India have already died since Qatar won the bid to host soccer’s most prestigious event according to Business Insider. Recently, FIFA developed a new human rights protocol for countries to follow while building and preparing to host the World Cup. This has not slowed down Qatar’s efforts, as many have alleged that the country is using a new form of “modern-day slavery” to keep these workers according to Business Insider. These workers form Nepal have been forced to be in the extreme heat for long periods of time without water, work extensive shifts and live in small dumpy apartments that are filthy. They withhold pay from the workers as well as taking their passports as soon as they get to the country so that cannot just leave the site. This extreme mistreatment has called for some answers to be given to the country of Nepal and its people. Husbands, son and brothers are coming back to Nepal in caskets and the families want to know why and how, but the answer eludes Qatari officials. Suzy Grim of the Harrisburg Area Women’s Soccer League, HAWSL, says that what the Qatari people are doing is “awful” and that “slave labor takes away from the ethics of the game.” Suzy is the current president of the HAWSL here in the mid-state and she tries to promote athletics to adult women of all ages to stay active in the realm of soccer. Her insight is incredibly helpful even if she needed a bit of help verbalizing it. Her two students Lake Sutliff and Romain Marzin helped Suzy formulate her own opinion about the scandal and the malpractices of the people in Qatar.
Qatar has also had to deal with massive corruption with the payment of FIFA officials to vote for them to host the World Cup. Bribes have been a main source of income for many of FIFA’s high ranking officials for an elongated time. The 10-year-old daughter of Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil, who is part of FIFA’s executive committee, admitted to paying his daughter $3.4 million for his vote swinging toward Qatar’s bid to host according to Business Insider. Amid these allegations Teixeira stepped down from his position on the FIFA committee. Another member of the executive committee, Jack Wagner, was caught in a web of bribes. Warner was paid $2 million by a Qatari firm in exchange for the vote going to Qatar to host the cup. Wagner was banned for life in 2011 and the FBI has taken an extensive look at the case according to Business Insider. The firm that paid Wagner is owned by a former high ranking FIFA executive and the money was exchanged soon after Qatar was awarded the bid. Suzy Grim stated that “It’s a shame that sports are not unscathed by financial scandal though it’s not a surprise.” The corruption and unlawful practices and Suzy states that, “Sepp Blatter must have known about most of what was going on behind closed doors.” The suspicious nature of the entire situation screamed cover up and controversy.
Many other problems continue to swirl as Qatar tries to prepare for the 2022 World Cup. The initial plan was to build 12 stadiums across the country but that dream will not materialize in time as they now decided to now only build 8 according to Business Insider. This will make it a bit more challenging for group play at the start of the event. The space aged stadiums they are in the process of building along with undeveloped cities and towns they are renovating to make room for spectators and sponsors will cost right around $200 billion. That’s right $200 billion, which is more than four times the amount the Sochi Olympic Games cost when they were hosted in Russia. Another issue that has been a widespread problem for a lot of countries all over the world is that Qatar has extremely strict anti-gay laws. In the country homosexuality is illegal and many countries including the United States have a problem with these regulations. Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s embattled, former president said that homosexual men who want to go to the World Cup should “refrain from any sexual activities.” Blatter has since stepped down from his post as president stemming from corruption and bribery charges levied against some of his close colleagues. His resignation came shortly after he was controversially re-elected. Blatter or not, many countries are up in arms about this issue.
To put the cherry on top of all of this, this scandal comes at the same exact time as the 2015 Women’s World Cup which will be hosted by the Canadians. This scandal has overshadowed the games and made for a living nightmare in the soccer community. FIFA has had a problem with a lot of its female athletes as the organization will try and force a mandatory gender identification test to make sure the women participating in the Women’s World Cup are actually women according to Forbes. Many countries are outraged about the testing although some have already completed testing their teams before this summer’s cup in Canada. High profile countries such as Germany and England have already submitted to the tests which are considered morally and ethically inappropriate. Testing policies like this one have been around elite women’s sports for a long period of time according to Forbes. Though, just because they have been around a long time does not make them right and governing bodies of highly touted organizations should not be telling women if they are women or not. It is impossible to test for sex and science has no such thing as a test for sex, which is what FIFA is trying to do according to Forbes. The worst part about this is that there is no explanation toward for the testing, FIFA just plainly states that they want gender identification tests performed before each World Cup. The real controversy comes with the test itself. Women feel victimized because their appearance does not meet basic cultural standards set by society. These women may have masculine qualities which diminishes their confidence and call their character into question. These players have been women all their lives and its offensive to their personal beliefs and identification as a woman to be called anything but that.
If these women athletes are caught not claiming to be what they say they are, they can be suspended and face major disciplinary action. The German Football Association obtained gynecology reports from each of their player’s doctors to confirm that these women were women according to Forbes. This is an invasion of privacy and unethical as well as just unscientific. The rule states that men are also supposed to be tested but there are no records indicating that men were ever tested. FIFA has so many other problems crowding around them that the last thing it needs is another case that humiliates and slits women. Suzy Grim says that, “It seems justified that men are not tested, but it is unethical to question women like that.” She continues to say “The transgender community and beyond won’t stand for this and that women should be comfortable with themselves and not be questioned.” If women are questioned so should the men. It’s about the balance within society and treating every individual the same, man or woman.
The corruption involved with FIFA and its executive committee has been overwhelming to say the least. Unethical behavior cannot be tolerated in any sense of the word especially when they govern a large, worldwide organization with immense power. Soccer is the world’s largest and most beloved sport and to see the leaders act in such a manner is ludicrous. Governing bodies should lead without bias and without different agendas once they leave official meetings. Suzy Grim states that, “The correct steps and time will heal the organization.” The only way to solve this problem is to wipe the committee clean and start from scratch to bring back the integrity the organization once had. So Sepp Blatter can twiddle his thumbs while he watches his $25-$32 million major motion picture project that was just created go right down the drain. This movie made a not so impressive $607 on the first Friday it aired across the U.S. It seems like it’s time for him to reevaluate a lot of his business decisions and practices across the board.