Soccer World Cup Corruption Scandal Deepens
COLOGNE, Germany – The morass of scandal, allegations and accusations surrounding soccer world governing body FIFA and its president, Sepp Blatter, continue to deepen with claims of millions in bribes connected to the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
FIFA’s executive committee meets Tuesday to appoint a corruption prosecutor to investigate the awarding procedure that led to Russia and Qatar winning World Cup hosting rights ahead of widely-favored nations including Britain and the U.S.A..
And mere weeks before the London Olympics, the International Olympic Committee has said it will also discuss corruption scandals surrounding FIFA that reaching back to the 1990s.
FIFA manages the lucrative global broadcast rights for the World Cup tournaments as well as the millions in sponsorship revenue generated by the soccer championships.
Accusations of corruption at the sports governing body are nothing new but things heated up last week when a Swiss prosecutor last week released legal documents which said former FIFA president and IOC member Joao Havelange and former FIFA executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira took multi-million bribes on World Cup deals in the 1990s from the now defunct sports marketing body ISL.
Current FIFA president Blatter, also an IOC member, has denied any knowledge of the bribes. But pressure is mounting on Blatter to resign. Several prominent members of the German Football Association, including president Wolfgang Niersbach have called for the 76-year-old Blatter to step down.
Blatter, however, has shot back. In an interview with a Swiss paper this weekend, he again denied all accusations of corruption and instead suggested that Germany had used bribery to secure the 2006 World Cup. Blatter later modified his statement, saying he didn’t mean to stir up any “conspiracy theories” but his accusation sparked a media storm in Germany.
Blatter was re-elected to a fourth term of office a year ago in an controversial election. Blatter ran unopposed after his only rival, Mohamed Bin Hammam, withdrew after being charged in a cash-for-votes affair and was subsequently banned for life pending appeal.