The FIFA corruption scandal in 2015 makes baseball’s steroids era, Tiger Woods’ infidelity, and Pete Rose’s betting seem like rather innocent affairs, no pun intended Mr. Woods.
Since May, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has been engulfed in what is shaping up to be the most scandalous and corrupt case in the history of professional sports.
Considering it involves the world’s most popular game, the consequences will impact players and fans around the globe.
Before the outcome of the 2015 FIFA corruption scandal can be determined, let’s first venture back to how it all began.
May 27, 2015
Early in the morning, unannounced Swiss officers swarm the posh five-star Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich. Seven FIFA officials are arrested along with seven others with direct ties to the organization.
The raid was carried out in conjunction with the IRS, Department of Justice, and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s office, America’s chief law enforcer saying there is “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption abroad and in the United States surrounding FIFA.
According to Lynch and Swiss authorities, FIFA executives took more than $150 million in bribes over the last 20-some years and used American banks to launder the funds.
Many of FIFA’s leading officials are named and taken into custody, but surprisingly FIFA President Sepp Blatter is not. “We will continue to work with the relevant authorities … to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing,” Blatter said at the time.
May 29, 2015
The organization he oversees is amid the biggest corruption case soccer has ever seen, but somehow Blatter wins re-election at the 65th FIFA Congress.
June 2, 2015
Following mounting criticism, the 79-year-old Blatter announces he will resign from the position he’s held since 1998. However, Blatter’s resignation will be a long process as FIFA will need to schedule an “extraordinary” congress to elect his successor.
That special convening won’t take place until February 26, 2016.
October 8, 2015
Months after law enforcement first swooped down on soccer’s governing body, FIFA finally motions to remove Blatter effective immediately.
A review by the Independent Ethics Committee advised FIFA to ban Blatter for 90 days as the investigation endures.
Switzerland and the United States continue to gather information on suspicions of racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery against the 14 accused.
FIFA’s damage control is more like life support, the body hanging on to existence by a mere thread.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has recommended that FIFA look outside its corporate structure for Blatter’s replacement come February. “We hope now, finally, everyone at FIFA has at last understood that they cannot continue to remain passive,” Bach advised in October.
“Football, not just FIFA, stands on the precipice of disaster,” International Center for Sport Security Executive Director Chris Eaton said. “It is now absolutely vital that the entire governance structure of world football … is independently restructured by credible figures … in order to restore trust and ensure the integrity of the game.”
With millions of dollars exchanging hands from countries around the world, and with the suspected high-profile associates beginning to talk to Swiss and American detectives, FIFA’s corruption match will go long into stoppage time before a winner will be determined.