FIFA corruption case reveals deep-rooted greed of soccer body

FIFA corruption case reveals deep-rooted greed of soccer body

The dark underbelly of football's governing body FIFA is being brought to light.

The US Justice Department has indicted 14 people - including five executives of sports marketing firms - in connection with charges that FIFA vice presidents and others took bribes in return for the awarding of lucrative media and marketing rights to international football tournaments.

The charges included such offences as systematic profiteering and money laundering.

The total amount of bribes and kickbacks accepted by the vice presidents and others since 1991 allegedly exceeded the equivalent of ¥18 billion.

In the statement, the Justice Department accused the defendants of "having abused their positions of trust," thus profoundly harming football fans and others concerned throughout the world. The department also noted the indictment "is not the final chapter in our investigation."

We hope that the whole picture of the alleged wrongdoings is elucidated.

Swiss authorities have also launched criminal proceedings into suspected irregularities involving such matters as the processes for selecting the host venue of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.

Their respective hosts are Russia and Qatar, which has caused concern because of its blistering heat. Japan was among the countries that had declared candidacy for hosting the 2022 World Cup.

World Cup events have conventionally been held in summer, but FIFA made an unusual decision on the timing of the Qatar event by scheduling it between November and December. This may be because the organisation was intent on holding the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

As a massive sporting event on a par with the Olympics, the World Cup is one of FIFA's largest revenue sources. Of total revenues equivalent to ¥710 billion during the period from 2011 to 2014, 70 per cent was reportedly generated from selling World Cup-related media and marketing rights.

Reelection unbelievable

More than 30 billion people worldwide watch the World Cup on TV. Indeed, the event comes with numerous benefits for TV broadcasters. Companies holding marketing rights can expect a boost to their brand images. As a result, many countries covet the opportunity to host a World Cup.

The string of FIFA corruption allegations concern the purchase of rights and interests related to the World Cup and other events, with sports marketing firms allegedly buying off high-ranking FIFA officials in a bid to sell the rights downstream to TV networks and other corporations. Such activities are said to have taken place amid the closed nature of FIFA's organizational operations, in which decision-making power on important matters has been concentrated among slightly more than 20 directors.

A rash of various problems and suspicions linked to money have arisen since Sepp Blatter took the presidential post in 1998.

We find it hard to understand why the organisation recently held a general meeting even as the corruption case was unfolding, reelecting Blatter as FIFA chief for a fifth term. With many of its directors having been indicted, the president naturally should have been brought to task for failing to fulfil his oversight responsibility.

It is likewise hard to understand why Japan Football Association President Kuniya Daini announced his intention to support Blatter.

JFA Vice President Kozo Tajima was appointed to the post of FIFA director at the general meeting. It is up to Japan to play an active role in backing reform of football's world governing body.

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