Barack Obama: Crucial That FIFA ‘Operates with Integrity’

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Barack Obama, who has called himself a “soccer dad,” weighed in on the FIFA corruption scandal during a press conference at the G-7 meeting in Germany.

“With respect to FIFA I cannot comment on a pending case by our attorney general,” Obama explained in response to a question. “I will say that in conversations I’ve had here in Europe people think it is very important for FIFA to be able to operate with integrity and transparency and accountability.”

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch authorized a May 27 raid that resulted in more than a dozen arrests of FIFA officials and the businessmen accused of bribing them. The alleged corruption involves nations landing soccer tournaments, such as the World Cup, via payments to FIFA officials. Lynch says she can document $150 million that changed hands in efforts to rig votes on site selection for events, including the World Cups in South Africa in 2010, Russia in 2018, and Qatar in 2022.

“And so as the investigation and charges proceed,” Obama noted in Germany, “I think we have to keep in mind that although football/soccer, depending on which side of the Atlantic you live on, is a game, it’s also a massive business. It is a source of incredible national pride and people want to make sure that it operates with integrity.”

Obama has called soccer his “first sport” and shared an enthusiastic phone call with U.S. men’s goalkeeper Tim Howard during the 2014 World Cup.

Perhaps with Tim Howard in mind, Obama concluded Monday: “The United States, by the way, since we keep on getting better and better at each World Cup, we want to make sure that a sport that’s gaining popularity is conducted in an upright manner.”