DIEGO Maradona’s announcement that he would personally like to join the fight against the ‘mafia’ of FIFA’s corrupt officials is the latest act in the circus now surrounding footballs governing body, which stormed into the public eye at the end of May following raids by Swiss police and the arrest of seven FIFA officials.
Since then the ever-controversial Sepp Blatter has won and since resigned as president, seven more high-ranking individuals have been arrested, headquarters on two continents have had documents seized as evidence, and bidding for future world cups has been suspended.
Although there’s no denying the enormous scale of this operation to clear out the profiteering members of the organisation, issues with payments and corruption have been rife for years. This investigation draws on over a decade of evidence under Blatter’s rule, and extends into the future with suspicions surrounding the next two world cups, most of all 2022 in Qatar.
Most of the accused have either been arrested or surrendered willingly to the authorities (only José Maria Marin, ex-president of Brazilian football, remains a fugitive) and with many pleading guilty to accepting bribes and racketeering, there’s a good chance there’s some incriminating invoices in someones desk drawer. The most dramatic reaction to this came from Jack Warner, claiming he feared for his life now the investigation was underway. “Not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming… Let the chips fall where they fall.“, he said in an address from his native Trinidad & Tobago. Warner claims to have evidence enough to involve Blatter, who has evaded handcuffs so far.
The history and hard work put into bringing these men to justice can be read about in detail online now, but as for the future of FIFA, there is still much to be decided. Blatter will be leaving his post in February and potential successors are throwing hats into rings, the front-runner of whom is Michel Platini; current president of UEFA.
Mud is being slung by his competitors (one of which is Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein, freshly beaten by Blatter in the most recent election), but with backing from four continental footballing bodies and distance from the marred american organisations, he is leading the race at this early stage.
Until the vote next year though the focus remains on the FBI who continue trawling through the paper trails of Warner and his compatriots for more evidence. Sepp Blatter carries on in the highest office in football for now, attempting to remain separate from the collusion of his previous co-workers. But as Simon Brodkin illustrated with his “North Korea 2026” stunt in July, he isn’t being left to step down quietly.