These past few weeks have been a turbulent time for the international football organization known as the Fédération Internationale de Football Association or FIFA. FIFA’s problems started with 14 FIFA officials being arrested by U.S. law enforcement, a rather ironic arrest considering that the U.S. seems to be the one nation that isn’t obsessed with soccer, and only yesterday the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, resigned amid all the charges of corruption.
It isn’t exactly new news that FIFA is corrupt. It seems to be a long running joke among soccer fans that their favorite sport is controlled by one of the most corrupt groups in the world. For decades there have been allegations that FIFA officials have taken bribes and have been generally corrupt.
The most recent example is the 2022 World Cup. That World Cup will be held in Qatar, a city where the temperature can be 122 degrees in the summer. According to the CDC, working in excessively hot temperatures can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. These games will be held outdoors, and it is very possible that players could get heat stroke. Not only will the players play worse because of the heat, it will be dangerous.
Qatar has also been described as a modern day slave-state, with hundreds of workers dying while building soccer stadiums already. Workers are not allowed to leave Qatar without their employer’s permission and some workers must give their employers their passports when they start work.
According to “The Guardian,” one worker a day dies of workplace injuries in Qatar. In the summer of 2013, at least 44 workers died from June 4th to August 8th. As of today, there have been an estimated of 12 hundred workplace deaths due to unsafe workplace conditions with a predicted 4 thousand by the 2022 World Cup.
FIFA also has massive power over the countries that host the World Cup. In 2003, Brazil passed a law banning alcohol from soccer stadiums due to the high number of alcohol related deaths. During the World Cup in Brazil, FIFA strong-armed Brazil into passing a law, exempting FIFA from those laws. FIFA did this because one of their largest sponsors is Budweiser, the biggest beer company in the world.
During the South African World Cup, FIFA created the “FIFA Courts,” a system of courts that handles World Cup related crimes. In one case, a man was arrested on a Wednesday for robbing people who attended the World Cup, he was charged the next day and sentenced to 15 years in jail on Friday.
Hopefully, now that FIFA’s corruption is officially in the light, the organization will begin to change. This change began with the resignation of Sepp Blatter and will continue with the arrests of key officials. FIFA’s corruption is starting to hurt the players and it needs to stop.