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FIFA Arrests Rock the Global Soccer Community, Sepp Blatter Resigns

World Cup Match, 2010, Netherlands vs. Denmark. (Image: State Department/Wikimedia)
World Cup Match, 2010, Netherlands vs. Denmark. (Image: State Department/Wikimedia)

Last week FIFA, the powerful global governing body of soccer, came under fire because of corruption allegations and the resulting arrests.

FIFA officials apparently took bribes and provided “lucrative media and marketing rights” to soccer tournaments for over two decades.

Apparently, the crimes were prepared and agreed to in the U.S. Many people are demanding a new start for the international soccer organization.

U.S. swings its international justice bat

FIFA Stamp Illustration. 100 years. (Image:Postverk Føroya/Wikimedia)

FIFA Stamp Illustration, 100 years. (Image: Postverk Føroya/Wikimedia)

Following an indictment by the U.S. Justice Department, Swiss police arrested several high ranking FIFA officials during an overnight raid in Zurich, Switzerland last week. The defendants were all charged with corruption.

According to the U.S. investigation, the alleged wrongdoings cover a time period of 24 years. The U.S. prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 14 people. The charges range from money laundering to fraud and racketeering. Some FIFA officials took bribes totaling more than $150 million.

On top of the 14 suspects who have been charged, several others have already pleaded guilty—four former FIFA officials, among them Chuck Blazer and a sports marketing executive.

Stamp Illustration. Soccer World Cup, Chile 1962.(Image:Darjac/Wikimedia)

Stamp Illustration, Soccer World Cup, Chile 1962. (Image:Darjac/Wikimedia)

The parody is that the crackdown on FIFA paralleled the election of a new president. Despite the investigations against FIFA officials, the election still took place as planned, with Sepp Blatter winning a fifth term even though the corruption happened during his watch. Many people have called for his resignation. FIFA also has no plans to delay or cancel the planed games in Russia and Qatar.

FIFA acknowledges the investigations, but will give no further comments.

“The timing may not obviously be the best, but FIFA welcomes the process”, says FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio.

The web of corruption spans and even reaches to the United States. For decades, soccer officials have abused their positions and made a fortune off bribes.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the accusation “alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States.” He adds: “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their position of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”

What does the U.S. have to do with all of this?

Team USA Fans show their team spirit. World Cup Match, USA vs Argentinia, 2010.(Image: Department of State/Wikimedia)

Team USA Fans show their team spirit, World Cup match, U.S. vs Argentinia, 2010. (Image: Department of State/Wikimedia)

The reason why the United Stated pressed charges against the suspects is because the plots were apparently planed in the U.S. Among the highest ranking officials facing charges in the U.S. is Jeffrey Webb, a FIFA vice president and head of CONCACAF, the FIFA-affiliated governing body for North America and the Caribbean.

“According to the U.S. request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the U.S., and payments were carried out via U.S. banks,” says the Swiss Office of Justice.

Some jurisdiction issues still remain, however. Although Swiss officials say they are working closely with U.S. authorities, the investigations are separate ones.

Part of the problem for U.S authorities is making a case that the U.S. has legal jurisdiction over the alleged crimes, because most of them took place outside the U.S.

U.S. prosecutors believe the broad reach of U.S. tax and banking regulations might help in claiming jurisdiction.

The U.S authorities argue that the American television market, and the billions paid by U.S. networks, is enough to make a legal claim on the case.

Others demand that there should be a fresh start in how international soccer is organized.

“[…] enough is enough. After decades of what the indictment alleges to be brazen corruption, organized international soccer needs a new start.”

On June 2, Sepp Blatter stated that he will resign the position of president that he was just elected to by calling an extraordinary congress where a new president can be elected.

Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, who just lost to Blatter in the recent election, and UEFA president Michel Platini have emerged as the early front runners to succeed Blatter as FIFA chief.

We live in morally very challenging times. However, it is precisely the challenge that induces growth. There is a old Chinese saying:”Waves wash the sand and what remains is pure gold.”

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