FIFA seems to be getting serious about the perception that its organization is rife with corruption. Last week it suspended three of its top officials: President Sepp Blatter, Vice President Michael Platini, and Secretary General Jéôrome Valcke. All of the suspensions were for 90 days. Additionally a fourth FIFA official, Chung Mong-joon, was barred from the sport for six years over ethical violations surrounding the selection of the sites for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Blatter, in his appeal of the suspension, seemed to indicate that he believed the sanction was based upon the investigation opened up by the Swiss attorney general’s office into two events. The first was over a payment approved by Blatter to Platini in 2011, for work Platini had performed some nine years earlier. The second involved Blatter’s role in awarding the television rights to the 2010 World Cup to then-FIFA board member Jack Warner. Warner later resold the television rights at a higher price than he paid for them. (Warner was one of the 14 individuals indicted by the US Justice Department for accepting bribe payments.) Platini and Valcke have also appealed their suspensions.
While these appeals seem to turn on the Swiss criminal investigation, I believe it is no coincidence that they occurred less than one week after the FIFA’s four leading corporate sponsors all released requests for the organization to begin to clean itself up and for Blatter specifically to step down. So money might actually talk in a good way in this situation.
I also found it interesting that the International Olympic Committee has begun to comment on the FIFA scandal. (Perhaps the IOC is quickly assimilating the lesson that non-Volkswagen German car makers have found out recently: that a scandal involving a competitor can be so bad it can damage your brand and reputation, too.) Thomas Bach, IOC president, was quoted in the New York Times that “enough is enough.” Bach called for real reform in the organization and went on to say, “This is also a structural problem and will not be solved simply by election of a new president.”
All of this would seem to point towards a resolution by an outsider with no ties to the current organization.