FIFA: Biggest scandal in the history of sports




In what is being described as the biggest scandal in the history of sports, FIFA officials were charged and arrested of receiving more than $150 million in bribes. Swiss police made raids in Zurich where the officials were staying for the presidential elections to be held on Friday. The scandal in turn is estimated to pose a threat of $100 billion worth of brand value for some of the world’s leading firms.

FIFA: Biggest scandal in the history of sports

FIFA: Biggest scandal in the history of sports

The 209 members of the FIFA association will be going for a vote to elect their new president. Sepp Blatter has been the president of FIFA since 1998. Despite being one of the officials facing US prosecutors, he is looking to come back to power against Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Husian who is standing against the Swiss in the elections.

The FIFA officials also are separately charged being investigated into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cup venue allotments were done. A lot will depend on the amount of corruption that is exposed to influence the bids and voting process of the World Cup venues. The mere accusations and the scale of the scandal are substantial enough for the organization to come under the lens which has already resulted in irrefutable damage to its reputation and integrity.

UEFA has now demanded the postponement of the Polls as FIFA chief along with others are under investigation for fraud and corruption charges. The UEFA will call for a general meeting of FIFA’s congress if Blatter wins the elections. Earlier a debate raged through the European football officials whether to boycott the Friday elections. On the contrary the Asian Football Association has decided to back the 79-year old Swiss and called for the elections to proceed.

On a different page of the same book, Russian President Vladimir Putin entered the debate to accuse the US of intervening outside its jurisdiction as FIFA officials are not American citizens. Putin stated that the arrests constituted “another blatant effort by the US to extent its jurisdiction to other states”.

The mess caused by FIFA has also agitated their sponsors who are threating to pull out their money.
All major football sponsors like Visa, Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald’s, Budweiser are pressing on FIFA to clean up the corruption scandal that threatens the world’s most popular sport. These companies shell out over millions for being associated with the FIFA brand to advertise to the massive global audiences around the world particularly the football World Cup.

Worried about their reputation linked to FIFA’s scandal major sponsors like Visa and Coca-Cola are worried about the future of their brand value.

Visa has issued a statement saying, “Should FIFA fail to rebuild a culture with strong ethical practices to restore the reputation of the game, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship”. Coca-Cola too has taken a firm stand on the issue and said, “This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of FIFA World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations”.

Budweiser, the US beer unit of Belgian giant AB InBev said, “We expect all of our partners to maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency”.

Nike though not being directly related to FIFA has been dragged into the scandal after Department of Justice stated a multinational sportswear company headquartered in US had relations with the bribery charges. Nike officials are concerned with these serious allegations threatening to disrupt their brand in the eyes of the public and have been said to cooperate with the authorities.

A poll showed that the Swiss was the most likely to be re-elected back as FIFA chief however, a majority of UEFA’s member associations will vote for Jordanian prince. UEFA president said, “I’m saying this with sadness and tears in my eyes, but there have been too many scandals, FIFA doesn’t deserve to be treated this way”.

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Anjan K Merkap

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