UEFA, the European governing body of soccer, issued a statement on Wednesday calling for new leadership in FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, which runs international soccer and the World Cup.
A U.S. Department of Justice indictment naming 14 people on charges, including racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering, triggered the statement. The BBC reported that the corruption, which involved over $150 million, had been ongoing for the last 24 years. One of the decisions affected by the corruption entailed scheduling the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The soccer officials charged were Eduardo Li, Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Jack Warner, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin, and Nicolás Leoz. Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, was not named as yet; one federal law enforcement official said the decision regarding Blatter would “depend on where the investigation goes from here.”
The statement read:
Today’s events are a disaster for FIFA and tarnish the image of football as a whole.
UEFA is deeply shocked and saddened by them.
These events show, once again, that corruption is deeply rooted in FIFA’s culture.
There is a need for the whole of FIFA to be “rebooted” and for a real reform to be carried out.
The upcoming FIFA Congress risks to turn into a farce and therefore the European associations will have to consider carefully if they should even attend this Congress and caution a system, which, if it is not stopped, will ultimately kill football.
UEFA stated that further steps should be taken, but they asserted that this week’s FIFA Congress should be postponed and new FIFA presidential elections held within six months.