Early Wednesday morning, on May 27, seven FIFA officials were arrested by Swiss police in a five-star hotel in Zurich. Meanwhile, U.S. prosecutors unveiled charges detailing “rampant, systematic and deep-rooted” corruption at the organization.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, better known as FIFA, is the international governing body of association soccer. It is responsible for the organization of the sport’s major international tournaments like the World Cup.
“Rampant, Systematic, and Deep-Rooted” Corruption
According to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, “The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted; both abroad and here in the United States. It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.” (Source: Department of Justice, May 27, 2015.)
Walter De Gregorio, FIFA’s spokesman, stated, “This is not good in terms of image or reputation. But in terms of cleaning up everything we did over the past four years, this is good.” (Source: Bloomberg, May 27, 2015.)
Swiss federal prosecutors also opened criminal proceedings regarding the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. However, according to FIFA’s spokesman, the 2018 and 2022 World Cups would still be held in Russia and Qatar, respectively.
FIFA is not the target of the investigation. In fact, the organization filed a criminal complaint with the Swiss authorities last November.
The election for FIFA’s president will not be affected by the probe, said FIFA. Sepp Blatter, the current president who plans to go for a fifth term, was not named in the investigation.
The probe may also draw attention to FIFA’s sponsors. These include The Coca-ColaCompany (NYSE/KO), Adidas (Stuttgart/ADS.SG), McDonald’sCorp. (NYSE/MCD), Hyundai Motor Co. (KRX/005308), and VISA Inc. (NYSE/V), to name a few.
In response to the news, Adidas issued a statement saying that they “encourage FIFA to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do.” (Source: Business Insider, May 27, 2015.)