FIFA corruption: A timeline of unethical behavior

Michael Walsh
FC Yahoo

Something ugly was lurking behind the beautiful game.

The soccer world was thrown into turmoil Wednesday morning when several top FIFA officials were arrested on corruption charges at a hotel in Switzerland.

[Dan Wetzel: While FIFA probe is celebrated, a horrific scandal continues in Qatar]

But few soccer fans familiar with the international governing body’s history of reported misconduct and bribery were surprised by the news.

In fact, many simply wondered, “What took so long?”

[FC Yahoo: Sepp Blatter responds to FIFA corruption probe in written statement]

Authorities say the suspects participated in a 24-year scheme to amass tremendous wealth through corrupting the most popular sport on Earth.

1991: Dishonesty begins

Between 1991 and today, two generations of international soccer officials allegedly abused their positions of trust for personal gain through various criminal activities, including but not limited to fraud, bribery and money laundering.

1998: Sepp Blatter elected president

The election of Sepp Blatter to FIFA’s presidency over Lennart Johansson occurred amid great controversy.

At the time, there were widely reported allegations that the organization’s African delegates were offered $50,000 to choose Blatter leading up to the official vote in Paris, The Associated Press reported.

Mohamed bin Hammam, of Qatar, was a central player in campaigning for Blatter. This is considered an early example of Qatar's growing influence over the organization.

2010: Russia and Qatar picked to host future World Cups

In December, FIFA awarded the 2018 World Cup finals to Russia and the 2022 finals to Qatar. Both decisions were controversial because of each country’s human rights violations, among other issues.

Critics accuse FIFA of bribery, mismanagement and money laundering in awarding the tournament to these countries.

Two months earlier, the Sunday Times had run an exposé on FIFA’s alleged cash-for-votes bidding.

2011: Spain and Qatar collusion confirmed

In February, after months of speculation, Blatter admitted that the Qatar and Spain-Portugal bid teams had traded votes for hosting the upcoming World Cups.

Three months later, FIFA’s ethics committee banned Mohamed bin Hammam, who was on the organization’s executive committee, amid accusations that he used $1 million to bribe 25 members of the Caribbean Football Union in the Qatar vote.

2012: FIFA launches internal investigation

FIFA hires Michael J. Garcia, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, to investigate the allegations of misconduct. He says he will focus on the bidding process and the Russia/Qatar controversy.

2013: Plight of migrant workers exposed

FIFA’s decision to give Qatar the World Cup fell under increased scrutiny by human rights groups in September.  

A Guardian investigation revealed that Nepalese migrant laborers had died and many more endured abuse on a massive infrastructure project for the World Cup in in Qatar.

The workers were dying at a rate of one a day; many of the victims were young men who died of sudden heart attacks under exploitative conditions that constitute modern-day slavery, according to the definition by the International Labour Organization.

The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that at least 4,000 migrant workers would die while building the stadiums, hotels and other necessary buildings before the big tournament.

By the end of the year, at least 185 Nepalese men had died, according to the Guardian.

These revelations sparked international outrage.

2014: Garcia’s report suppressed

In December, Garcia resigned as FIFA’s chief ethics investigator after the organization stifled the release of his 350-page report on its corruption, which he had submitted in September.

Garcia said that FIFA’s ethical practices were so entrenched that he doubted they could be reformed from the inside, the New York Times reported.

“No independent governance committee, investigator or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization,” he wrote in the report, obtained by the broadsheet.

May 27, 2015: Top officials arrested

The United States Department of Justice unveiled a 47-count indictment in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Wednesday, charging nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives with racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracies and other offenses.

At the request of the U.S., Swiss authorities in Zurich arrested seven of the defendants charged in the indictment: Jeffrey Webb, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel and José Maria Marin.

U.S. law enforcement also executed a search warrant at the headquarters for CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) in Miami.

June 2, 2015: Blatter to step down

Just four days after winning a fifth term as FIFA president, Sepp Blatter announced he will resign as soon as a new FIFA congress elects his successor.

"I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organization," Blatter said. "That election is over but FIFA's challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul."
















































































FILE - In this May 19, 2015 file photo FIFA President Sepp Blatter attends a press conference in Jerusalem. Blatter is seeking reelection at the FIFA congress in Zurich where six soccer officials were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at a luxury hotel. The officials are in Switzerland for the FIFA congress and presidential election. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
FILE - In this May 19, 2015 file photo FIFA President Sepp Blatter attends a press conference in Jerusalem. Blatter is seeking reelection at the FIFA congress in Zurich where six soccer officials were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at a luxury hotel. The officials are in Switzerland for the FIFA congress and presidential election. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

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