The FBI finally busted FIFA officials on corruption charges related to the World Cups scheduled for Russia and Qatar. Vladimir Putin, naturally, does not like this at all.
“This is yet another blatant attempt to extend its jurisdiction to other states,” he declared. “Unfortunately our American partners are using these methods in order to achieve their own selfish gains and it is illegal to persecute people. I would not rule out that in regards to FIFA, the same thing could be happening, though I do not know how it will end. However, the fact that this is happening right on the eve of the FIFA presidential elections, gives one this exact impression.”
Outside of Russia and Qatar, few find the skullduggery in the prosecutors rather than the prosecuted. Piers Morgan penned an op-ed in The Daily Mail where he actually thanked America for putting an end to Blatter’s reign. Morgan said he cried tears of joy at the news since Blatter ruined FIFA:
Blatter himself has been regularly alleged to have used FIFA’s coffers to grease the palms of business associates in the football world and family members.
He’s always denied any impropriety, but it’s harder to find examples of him behaving WITH propriety.
In one incident, he handed a £342 million ticketing and hospitality contract in 2007 to a company in which his nephew has a minority stake.
In another, in 2002, Blatter was accused of paying a FIFA referee $25,000 and promising him $25,000 more, in return for information on a Somali soccer official, Farah Addo – who had himself accused Blatter of bribery in his first election bid.
Blatter didn’t deny the payments but explained them by saying: ‘He said to me with tears in his eyes that he was a poor devil and had nothing left. ‘So I gave him $25,000 of my own money. I’m too good a person…’
Russia’s Foreign Ministry released this statement on their website:
Without going into the details of the accusations … this is clearly another case of illegal exterritorial use of US law.
We hope that this will not in any way be used to cast a shadow on the international football organisation as a whole and its decisions.
Once again we are calling on Washington to stop attempts to make justice far beyond its borders using its legal norms and to follow the generally accepted international legal procedures.
“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” explained Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust.”
Eyebrows immediately raised when Russia and Qatar won the bids. After all, Qatar summer temperatures average 104 Fahrenheit and not uncommon to reach 122. Blatter admitted it was a mistake to award Qatar the tournament. FIFA changed the 2022 World Cup to November and December, but received massive backlash since the English Premier League is “hectic” in December. The change of date causes conflicts for television in America. Fox owns the rights to the 2022 World Cup, but just days after the conclusion of the World Cup college football bowl games generally dominate the schedule. Fox regularly shows NFL games on fall Sundays as well.
Of course money is a top reason why Qatar received the World Cup:
In March, Telegraph Sport revealed that former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner and his family were paid millions by a company owned by the former Fifa executive committee member for Qatar.
Further disclosures revealed that the daughter of a former executive committee member had more than £2 million put into her account, and a senior Fifa official’s son was given a job at a private Qatari hospital shortly after the decision to award the country the World Cup.
Last June, The Sunday Times claimed they held more documents that show how Mohomed bin Hammam, a Qatari member of FIFA’s 24-man executive committee, used Qatar’s wealth to buy votes for the World Cup. The documents also reveal evidence that Russia and Qatar worked together a month before FIFA announced the bids:
Emails show that Russia invited Bin Hammam to a summit to discuss “bilateral relations” in sport between their two countries on October 30, 2010, a month before the vote on the bids. Two days later, Qatar’s ruling emir also flew to Moscow for talks about joint gas production deals between the two countries.
The leaked correspondence shows that Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s Exco member and 2018 bid chairman, hailed Bin Hammam’s meeting with Putin as “a chance to further promote bilateral relations between our nations in the areas of sport”.
Despite the scandal, Putin does not need to worry about losing the World Cup. As The Telegraph points out, Hans-Joachim Eckert, FIFA’s head judge, claimed there is not enough evidence to deny the countries their bids.
“Unless Swiss prosecutors say otherwise, it is hard to see the next two World Cups being held elsewhere,” wrote Ben Rumsby.