The FIFA corruption saga is the story that seems to never end. The corruption trial in New York City has ended, and the allegations of racketeering, money laundering, and wire fraud are now in the hands of the jury. The governing body of world soccer certainly did not come out of this trial looking like much past one massive mechanism for the payment of monies, gifts, and gratuities to those in control from the top down.
Reports noted this trial focused on three key players from the South American soccer scene; Juan Ángel Napout, the former top soccer official of South America who is accused of accepting $10.5 million in bribes since 2010; Manuel Burga, the former top soccer official of Peru, accused of soliciting $4.4 million; and José Maria Marin, the former top soccer official of Brazil, accused of accepting $6.55 million.” The testimony was so devastating that even the lawyer for Napout admitted in his closing argument “They have a theory that everyone in soccer is dirty. There is no doubt the government’s investigation exposed widespread corruption in international soccer over a long period of time.” Of course, his client was not involved.
Yet, the corruption is beyond mere criminal trials as it has damaged FIFA as an institution. While the sport of international soccer is more popular than it ever has been, reports indicate FIFA is have troubling filling its sponsor slots for next year’s World Cup. While part of this may be due to the lack of an American entry into the quadrennial event and its situs in Russia, The Man From FCPA see businesses not willing to do business with an international organization that cannot or will not seem to clean itself up. One commentator noted that the FIFA brand has become “toxic.”
The effects of bribery and corruption are usually considered from the perspective of the entity paying the bribe. Yet, for each bribe payor, there is a bribe receiver. FIFA continues to present lessons for the compliance practitioner, and this one is straight-forward: if your organization is corrupt, other companies may well not want to do business with you going forward.