International sports scandals was the dominating headline in global athletics in 2015, public embarrassment soaking the reputations of two prestigious governing bodies.
With billions of dollars in the mix and equally as many moving parts in organizing mammoth events like the Olympics and World Cup, it should come as no surprise that scandal and corruption among powerful leaders is indeed possible.
What is surprising is the deep-rooted and rampant systematic structures in place that has marginalized the wrongdoings and almost makes fraud part of the norm.
2015 was the year in which the widespread immorality of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) came to light.
It was also the year when the International Olympic Committee was forced to deal with extensive deceitfulness of its 2016 host Brazil paired with a mounting environmental health issue.
FIFA and Qatar Criticized
The 2015 FIFA scandal that led to the arrests of seven officials has been much documented. The revelation that FIFA executives took in more than $150 million in bribes over the last 20 years clearly highlighted the ingrained criminality of soccer’s governing body.
The association is in dire need of a complete overhaul. As if bribery, racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud wasn’t enough, FIFA is also currently responding to reports of slavery and treacherous working conditions in Qatar, host country of the 2022 World Cup.
1,800 migrant workers have died while building new soccer venues, and summer temperatures routinely top 100 degrees Fahrenheit and come along with humidity, while employee housing comes free of air conditioning.
Workers promised by construction companies to be paid around $300 by per month are reporting they’re only being compensated $165 per 30 days.
One of the richest countries per capita, the sweatshop conditions underscore the “me first” thinking among soccer’s elite. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, ousted in the wake of his organization’s disgrace, has since questioned why the World Cup is going to Qatar.
“Nobody understood why the FIFA World Cup 2022 was now going to one of the smallest countries in the world,” Blatter said in October.
Rio Not Grand
The last World Cup country is also submerged in drama. After hosting soccer’s most marquee tournament, Brazil will host the most prominent competition in sports this summer for the 2016 Olympics.
The country’s second largest city, Rio de Janeiro, is being called into question after it was revealed Guanabara Bay is full of toxic filth.
Scheduled to be the site of several Olympic events, an analysis of the water performed by the Associated Press found dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria as a result of the city dumping human waste into the bay.
“What you have there is basically raw sewage, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project biologist John Griffith said in July. “It’s all the water from the toilets and the showers and whatever people put down their sinks, all mixed up, and it’s going out into the beach waters.”
Olympic officials are also monitoring what’s become known as the “Car Wash Operation,” the alleged movement of hundreds of millions of Brazilian real being exchanged among contractors building stadiums and government politicians.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) desperately tries to avoid any negative publicity. So far, its awarding Brazil the Summer Games has been nothing but controversy since it announced the 2016 host back in 2009.