Tuesday’s soccer news starts with a trip back in time to December 2, 2010. That’s when FIFA surprised many by naming Russia and Qatar as the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. As soon as then FIFA president Sepp Blatter read the names of the hosts, outrage ensued. That’s continued over the years as multiple members of FIFA’s executive committee ended up facing criminal charges and convictions over bribery allegations. The latest episode in this ongoing saga debuted on Monday.
AP’s Ronald Blum reported on an unsealed indictment accusing members of the executive committee of receiving money in return for their World Cup hosting votes. The specifics of the allegations shouldn’t come as a surprise. If FIFA offers a substantive response, the expectation is more of the same. They established a hard-line separating FIFA as an organization from the bad actors that also happened to be its principal decision-makers. FIFA’s strategy has worked for the institution, with its World Cup hosts remaining in place and FIFA the institution given status as a victim of criminal activity.
The executive committee no longer exists, replaced by the FIFA Council. The whole of the FIFA Congress now votes on World Cup hosts. The 2018 World Cup went ahead in Russia and the expectation is the 2022 edition will happen as scheduled in Qatar.
Reuters’ Simon Evans asks the obvious questions about continuing to press ahead with 2022 in Qatar. FIFA supplies the obvious answer, once again separating itself as an institution from the criminal acts of individuals. That may not satisfy the organization’s critics or soccer fans, but FIFA is staying on the path it charted when the allegations of bribes for votes initially surfaced.
FIFA’s own internal investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes concluded with the Garcia Report in September, 2014. Under pressure for transparency, FIFA released a summary of the report a month later and didn’t find enough reasons to reconsider awarding the World Cups to Russia and Qatar. FIFA’s investigator Michael Garcia resigned over how the institution handled his report, with the full version not made public until June, 2017.
The other date worth remembering is May 27, 2015. That’s when Swiss authorities raided the Hotel Baur au Lac in advance of the FIFA Congress and arrested several of those bad actors. FIFA protected itself, banning multiple members of its executive committee and rebuilding around new leadership. However seriously FIFA as an institution took reconsidering the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, publicly they stuck to their established schedule. They quickly moved past the raid on the hotel and the prosecutions in US courts.
What we’ve learned over the last decade is the ability of soccer’s institutions to pivot under new management and move on. The Copa Centenario happened on schedule following bribery issues over the media rights. The institution stayed separate from its bad actors. The 2018 World Cup stayed in Russia. Whatever outrage exists eventually makes way for the games.
MLSsoccer’s Matthew Doyle looks back at the 1996 MLS season. The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle has Liverpool FC reconsidering its decision to furlough some employees. Inside World Football’ sSamindra Kunti with the men’s Olympic soccer tournament now a U-24 event next summer.
Statement from #USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter on the postponement of June’s @CNationsLeague Final Four.#BendTheCurve pic.twitter.com/Gj9zBwLaDh
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) April 6, 2020
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