Guilty as Thought

To what extent has the notion of corruption been ingrained in the principles of supposed democratic following persons within FIFA? Cohen acknowledges the fact that “soccer leaders are more likely to make real changes…pressure caused by the governing body’s legal troubles.” (Cohen, 2015). FIFA has admitted to, not in the exact words, their unwillingness to change a culture that’s been thriving within. There was a previous corruption crisis that occurred in 2011, but the reforms that were promised were very underwhelming and fell short. FIFA as an organization is at fault for this major scandal that they are currently facing; their lack of willingness to change and lack of reform from outside sources have doomed them.

Reluctance in any form or manner can set you far behind your goals. The promise for reform is a critical juncture in the ever escalating scandal for FIFA. After corruption allegations erupted in 2011 and have now spilled over into the present day, Francois Carrard, chairman of the FIFA reform commission, noted that “In 2011, you didn’t have your breakfast ruined by police” (Cohen, 2015). Carrard is referring to the initial arrests made by authorities in Zurich this year. There were many reforms that were talked about in FIFA at that time; they were in terms of “good governance, transparency and zero tolerance towards wrongdoing on and also off the pitch.” Since this action didn’t take place back in 2011 perhaps he didn’t think it was as much of an urgent matter to enact proper reform policies. Since the intervention of U.S. and Swiss authorities into criminal activity perpetrated by FIFA officials, it now seems like the right time to make reform. They have several proposals up right now but they will only be voted during a February congress in Zurich. But why couldn’t they have made changes earlier and avoided this scandal they are facing right now? I don’t think that they even want to truly change because this has been the norm for many decades; they just stick to what they know best no matter the consequences. It would almost be too easy for FIFA to get ahead of a possible scandal, but this isn’t a surprise since they have no other form of reform except from within FIFA itself.

Other institutions and organizations are able to call upon outside sources for reform, but FIFA seeks that within. The problem with that is that if there is criminality going on at the highest levels of FIFA you can be rest assured that it has trickled down to other levels. With bribes and corruption going on I’m sure that money was exchanged and reform was hard to come by. According to Straus, “If Blatter is unable and unwilling, there finally are others with the will and the tools to do his job for him” (Straus, 2015). Straus is talking about the sponsors that FIFA has as well as the FBI, Dept. of Justice, IRS, and Swiss authorities who have the power now to change FIFA. This increased outside pressure has put a strain on FIFA, but they are still unable to make immediate changes. The only change they’ve managed is to provisionally suspend President Blatter and a handful of his associates.

These have only been insignificant forms of reform that have allowed FIFA to stay afloat. As long as they seem like they’re trying to turn it around, I don’t foresee any significant reform as long as Blatter and his closest associates are within FIFA.

To what extent has corruption been cultural in the principles of supposed democratic following persons? FIFA has become embroiled with corruption and bribery charges from top to bottom. President Blatter is now the subject of an ongoing investigation and has been provisionally suspended 90 days as a result. There was a transaction of ~$2 million made from Blatter to the head of European Soccer Michel Platini. There was an environment, almost a culture, of corruption and bribery well before Blatter rose to the top of FIFA. This lack of personal accountability and justice in criminality are what is holding FIFA back from continued growth and likeability.

Corruption persists in society when the scales of justice are not present, but this lack in morality/legality can be prevented by better checks and balances in authority positions, having a criminal free environment, and education of correct practices in being a leader. While these aspirations may be extremely difficult to accomplish, but working hard to achieve them would better the people, as well as, those in leadership positions. It can even persist in entire countries not just in businesses or local government operations.

Switzerland, the home base for FIFA, is ranked tied for 5th as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. This surprises me because how can a country so tight on corruption could let one of the biggest organizations in the world get away with this for decades doesn’t make any sense. As citizens of a country that holds justice to its highest degree we want to see criminals punished and crimes to become less frequent. When there has been a history of criminal activity it makes it hard for people to see through what is going on; since it has been continuing for many decades.

Sepp Blatter took over for former president João Havelange who he himself was under scrutiny for illegal activities during his presidential terms. Havelange ran the governing body of soccer for 24 years and his underling was none other than Blatter. Havelange was under investigation, but never went to trial because he had paid money to the liquidators of ISL (International Sport and Leisure) in order to not go to trial in 2010. Plus, the man was 90 years old and the statute of limitations in Switzerland had elapsed. So with a history already in order within FIFA it is no wonder how the next leader would continue the cycle.

Within FIFA there is no system of checks and balances. Such as the United States has with the three branches of government (Judiciary, Legislative, and Executive). No one is accountable for their actions within FIFA; FIFA’s high ranking executives has kept itself from the public’s view and is heavily reliant upon self-governing and self-containment. If there is not a system of checks and balances, then someone like the top executives at FIFA may do as they please with no fear of anyone or anything to stop them.

Blatter was brought up in FIFA from the bottom all the way to the top. He learned what is was to be in FIFA from the man who did it the best himself. From this culture of corruption and lack of justice and being “raised” in it from the bottom to the highest spots of FIFA it is no wonder that someone could be engulfed by it. Blatter’s potentially illegal actions paint a picture that one could say is the result of being brought up through the ranks and being taught the “ways of FIFA”.

People need to understand that corruption can consume any organization or anyone within it. Even when they are known worldwide and control the world’s number one sport, soccer. For FIFA there has been a sequence of events pertaining to the corruption and bribery scandal. It can be said that the corruption of FIFA started with former president João Havelange. He served for 24 years (1974-1998) and received approximately $42 million in bribes while president. After he was replaced by Sepp Blatter the lack of reform and an unwillingness to change FIFA was all thanks to the environment established beforehand.

Since Havelange stepped down in 1998 nothing much has changed in FIFA. Havelange accepted bribes of nearly $42 million from a marketing company during 1992-2000. He was still getting paid even after he wasn’t president of FIFA anymore. He was lucky to have paid a fine and escape trial for his bribes. There was already a history of criminal activity and it hasn’t stopped since then. FIFA has shown its disregard for change by its unwillingness to change or lack of instituting reform policies. Once a history of certain behavior has been established to deviate from that behavior can be challenging. There has been a sequence of events that has lead FIFA to this scandal.

Continued criminal activity has a compounding effect and FIFA is facing these consequences now. From former president Havelange to the neglect of moral actions, FIFA has turned a blind eye. The world views FIFA as a peaceful organization trying to help the people around the world. But, how can you say that you care about society while you use corruption as a tool for upward mobility? We all want to see justice be handed down and the good guys capturing the bad guys. If we allow FIFA to go unchecked and let them continue their bribery and corruption, then we are sending a message to society that criminal activity is okay as long as you have money and power.

Those who are being investigated, soccer leaders around the world, have stated that the investigations are just imperialism and will seek to “fight it whenever it manifests itself” (Malik, 2015). Those leaders from different soccer nations have viewed the U.S. involvement as them trying to get back at FIFA for their loss at a potential World Cup hosting bid. The U.S. does have a tendency to get involved in situations they shouldn’t be involved in, but there was no other world power stepping up to handle FIFA and its criminality. To be honest, they were probably the only ones who could handle a prosecution of this size and nature. The sequence of events spanning decades are proof that FIFA is not a victim of individual action.

FIFA is responsible for their predicament that they are in. If we want to rid the world of the corrupt then we need to take control and prosecute. If we want future generations to know that the bad do not go unpunished, we have to show them that even the mightiest can be brought to their knees through justice and prosecution.

 

Work Cited

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