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Opinion

Opinion: FIFA is a hopeless case

Several FIFA officials have been detained on corruption charges, and the Swiss Justice Department is investigating the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Enough is enough, says DW's sports editor Stefan Nestler.

FIFA is corrupt, right up to the top level of the organization. After the arrests of senior FIFA officials in Zurich on Wednesday, this should really be obvious to everyone. They've been accused by US investigators of accepting over $100 million (91.73 million euros) in bribes, in return for favors regarding broadcasting and marketing rights in North, Central and South American football.

Apparently, amongst those arrested are two of eight vice presidents of the executive committee of world football's governing body. One of them is Jeffrey Webb, the president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), who is said to be a close confidant of FIFA President Sepp Blatter. The Swiss FIFA boss himself is not on the list of those under investigation it seems.

DW sports editor Stefan Nestler

DW sports editor Stefan Nestler

An invisible layer of protection

That's hardly surprising. Whenever it became apparent throughout Blatter's 17-year reign as FIFA president that football functionaries had taken bribes, Blatter got off scot-free. It's as if he has an invisible layer of protection. Only once did he run into difficulties: when it came out that during his time as FIFA general secretary, he was at least aware of bribes being paid to FIFA executives by FIFA's marketing partner ISL.

Blatter's organization said the money was just a "commission," and FIFA managed to extricate itself in 2010 by paying millions in a settlement. Otherwise, Blatter just smiled off every crisis. And there have been quite a few of them. Like the controversial awarding of the World Cups to Russia and Qatar for 2018 and 2022, respectively. Swiss authorities are now investigating these processes for corruption, too.

Lack of self-analysis

With all this in mind, it seems odd that Blatter is still likely to be re-elected as president for the fifth time, when the FIFA congress takes place in Zurich on Friday. The 79-year-old can basically rely on the votes he will get from Africa and Asia, as well as the Americas. The Europeans, who actually wanted to get rid of Blatter, have proven to be toothless tigers.

In a properly run organization, Blatter would have been forced to hand in his resignation long ago. And, if he had any sense of decency, he would have resigned of his own accord. But FIFA is not likely to come clean about anything. What else has to happen before the organization is finally cleaned up? It doesn't seem to be on FIFA's agenda, despite a FIFA ethics committee. The whole place should be shut down.

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