By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
FIFA announced in a Media Release issued on 31 March 2017 that it had completed its own internal investigation into allegations of high-level and extensive bribery and corruption and criminal misconduct that have rocked the World Governing Body of Association Football.
The FIFA investigation has taken 22 months to complete, and 2.5 million documents have been reviewed, as well as many witnesses interviewed. The resulting FIFA Report runs to 1,300 pages, plus 20,000 pages of exhibits.
Copies of the Report have been handed over to the Swiss and US Criminal Authorities, who are currently investigating the alleged corruption scandals, which involve the former President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, and the FIFA former Secretary-General, Jerome Valcke, both of whom are facing criminal proceedings in Switzerland for alleged criminal mismanagement.
The investigations by FIFA and the Swiss and US Criminal Authorities followed the arrest in 2015 of several dozen FIFA football officials, mainly from Latin America, on corruption-related charges, sparking the worst ever crisis in FIFA’s 113-year old history.
Some of those arrested have pleaded guilty to the charges levelled against them and are awaiting their sentences; whilst others are facing trials, as well as further suspects in their native countries are fighting extradition to the US, or, in some cases, have avoided such extraditions.
For further information on the FIFA Report, see the FIFA Media Release of 31 March, 2017, posted on the FIFA official website at ‘www.fifa.com’.
Announcing the completion of the investigation, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, stated:
“FIFA will now return its focus to the game, for fans and players throughout the world.”
FIFA, as a result of the findings of its investigation, has also stated that it has made specific changes to their governance, compliance and finance functions, and intends to publish a detailed report of them at the end of April.
Notwithstanding all this, will, one may reasonably ask, ‘the beautiful game’ recover from these scandals of monumental proportions and ever be the same again?