On Wednesday, seven FIFA officials were arrested for corruption and bribery. The arrests sent a shockwave in the sports community, not only because how expensive the alleged bribes were (more than $100 million USD) but also because these officials range from the current FIFA vice president to executive committee members to a member of Olympic organizing committee. And to soccer insiders, the biggest surprise may be that someone actually did something about the corruption rampant in FIFA.
Back in June, John Oliver explained how unstoppable and how corrupt FIFA was. His explanation touched on the mountains of unchecked money pumped into the organization, but also the human toll.
"Its leader is infallible. It compels South American countries to spend money they don't have building opulent cathedrals," Oliver said. "And it may ultimately be responsible to deaths of shocking numbers of people in the Middle East."
Oliver wasn't describing the toll of the Crusades, but rather the devastating relationship between FIFA and the World Cup. Oliver brought to light a story that soccer fans wish weren't part of their game: FIFA, the governing body of the soccer, is plagued with corruption, takes advantage of hosting countries by avoiding taxes, is in the middle of a scandal in Qatar, the 2022 host, where allegations of slave-like conditions are being investigated, and, for some reason, has $1 billion in reserves while claiming to be a non-profit organization.
Oliver hasn't been the only one to issue a call to hold FIFA accountable. The New York Times ran an op-ed (also) in June, entitled "Throw FIFA out of the Game." And World Cup sponsors, huge sponsors like Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa, BP, Budweiser and Sony have called on the organization to investigate corruption that allegedly occurred when Qatar secured a 2022 bid.
"And yet, here's their power. I'm still so excited for the World Cup," Oliver said, explaining why people have a hard time holding FIFA responsible for its actions.