Last week, we reported on former FIFA official Chuck Blazer informing on FIFA for the FBI. This week, CNN is reporting that the FBI is stepping up its own corruption investigation that could land some FIFA officials in hot water. This runs contrary to FIFA’s own report on Thursday that cleared itself of any corruption in the cases of the bids that would give the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. The FBI, along with many in the soccer/football world, is less than convinced by the findings of FIFA and will be moving ahead with the corruption case that has been brewing now for roughly 3 years.
Chuck Blazer isn’t the only person that will be aiding the FBI in their probe of FIFA, however. Michael Garcia is a former U.S. prosecutor who was hired by FIFA to run an internal probe for corruption. The FBI is seeking to gain access to his report, but FIFA have yet to release the report for scrutiny. We can get a bit of a glimpse into what the report will say, however, based on Mr. Garcia’s statements on Thursday.
“Today’s decision by the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report. I intend to appeal this decision to the FIFA Appeal Committee.”
Mr. Garcia’s statements certainly hint towards finding at least some level of corruption within the FIFA organization, or else he would not have bothered to comment. With this report and the cooperation of Chuck Blazer, the FBI will be able to build a strong case against FIFA. The FBI investigation will be looking into a long list of corruption allegations, not just the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding processes.
It is important to note that this isn’t the first time that FIFA has been accused of corruption. In 2006, Andrew Jennings’ book, Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals, claimed to detail the seedy underbelly of FIFA. It would later be featured on the British news program, Panorama, where it was revealed that FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, was being investigated by Swiss officials for his role in a bribery scandal. Lord Triesman, a former English FA chairman, would also describe FIFA as “[behaving] like a mafia family” that had “decades-long traditions of bribes, bungs and corruption”. This Panorama episode would also feature Mel Brennan, who was a 2002 FIFA World Cup delegate. He would corroborate the Jennings findings of bribe-taking and corruption. Beyond this, there were reports of bribery and vote-rigging for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, reports of FIFA forcing host nations to give special privileges and tax exemptions, and the 2011 FIFA presidential election that saw FIFA ban Mohamed bi Hammam, a Qatari FIFA official who would later play a significant role in Qatar’s successful 2022 World Cup bid, banned for life for ethics violations. This list goes on for quite some time, these are just some of the highlights.
The FBI has yet to make an official statement on this open investigation.