FIFA-GATE

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera, May 29, 2015

I

n what is already being referred to as the most extraordinary day in the History of international soccer, the US has taken it upon itself to launch a corruption investigation into the soccer headquarters of the world, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association). The investigation consists of a 161-page, 47-count indictment against 14 high-ranking officials and executives either directly under, or related to FIFA, half of whom have already been arrested. Interestingly enough, of all the questions and controversy coming out of this investigation, the most important points do not include whether or not the defendants are guilty, but rather why is this investigation happening now? And why is the US conducting it?

In 2012, the recently re-elected President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter talked of “certain commitments that the Federation needed to adopt and implement to ensure transparency, oversight and accountability,” but talk is all it was. The following year Britain and the US lost their 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids to Russia and Qatar. Shortly thereafter, the investigations began. Both Blatter and Putin have commented about their doubts of coincidence in the matter. Moscow has wasted no time in announcing its firm belief that this investigation is being conducted illegally, only to the effect of robbing Russia of its upcoming World Cup. While this theory may hold some water, it ignores a couple of important details.

The American indictment is based on distasteful events which took place within US territory, as well as suspicious transactions in New York banks. Furthermore, the investigation does not target FIFA directly, but rather paints it as a victim of corrupt officials, about which there is little doubt. There is also a lot of talk about this having been an attempt to dethrone Blatter, whose Presidency has been controversial, to say the least. One can only wonder if this investigation is truly motivated by love of the sport and desire for just governance at its head, or by underhanded ploys to keep the West in control and on top of the world. Furthermore, what remains to be seen is whether American actions will inspire reform, or irreparably damage the organization and future of global soccer.

Get in deeper:
Watch: The FIFA scandal, explained 

Debate: Related Articles
Three Different Perspectives on the Same Issue. Click on the title to see more
Russia: US FIFA Investigation Is Illegal, Extraterritorial Use of LawThe FBI May Have Struck at FIFA, But Soccer In The US Has Been TarnishedThe Soccer Mafia
The charges are particularly sensitive for Moscow, which has found its moment in the World Cup spotlight tarnished by allegations of mismanagement … With national pride at stake, Russia is sparing no time in voicing its displeasure about the long arm of American justice.Reid Standish, Foreign Policy, May 27, 2015
Simon Evans, The Guardian, May 27, 2015
Ian Buruma, Project Syndicate, May 28, 2015
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FIFA-GATE

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