YJP / .
The Fall of the House of FIFA
You'll probably recollect the beaming smile of Sepp Blatter as he revealed Russia were hosting 2018 — and then the awkward realisation that life was going to get a whole lot harder when Qatar popped out for 2022.
That day in December 2010 was a global football revelation that triggered a revolution. That day turned plenty of us against FIFA. It had become rotten to the core and we knew it.
The votes also rankled with the authorities in Europe and North American, with the FBI opening investigations into corruption among FIFA’s top dogs.
When Blatter’s fourth presidential reign was sealed after the arrests of a number of FIFA officials in Switzerland in 2012, it became evident FIFA hadn’t learned its lesson from the World Cup voting scandals.
Shock and anger poured in from the football community. These men were in charge of the game we love and they abused their positions.
It was a view shared by journalists at the Word Cup vote and then the farcical Blatter vote — where the one man ready to stand against him was barred from doing so. David Conn was one of those journalists watching events unfold.
Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup venues
Sat, February 6, 2016
Express Sport takes a look at all the venues to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar
Qatar 2022 bid committee
1 of 23
Doha Port Stadium, Doha (to be built). Capacity: 44,950
It is thanks to Conn and other investigative journalists of his ilk that the men who greedily toyed with the FIFA machine are now coming to some sort of justice.
Back payments, brown envelopes, image rights deals, international football centres. So much of what FIFA did passed under the guise of scrutiny without being properly challenged.
The problem with the FIFA scandals is that there have been so many over the decades, so complicated and intertwined and secretive, that when revelations began to emerge of the corruption scandals after the 2010 vote, they were almost impossible to condense.
Holding people to public account can be very difficult when the enormity of the task is on this scale.
The impact also wanes the more scandals are revealed, with increasing complexity. When the Panama Papers were released, for example, hundreds of politicians and celebrities were exposed to have used the tax haven. But the complexities around the legality of individual cases and the sheer number of people named meant only a small handful were ‘punished’ for immoral tax avoidance.
The general perception of FIFA is that it is a historically corrupt — or at least corrupted — organisation. That perception lies in truth. The scandals of Joao Havenalge, Jack Warner and the recently deceased Chuck Blazer prove this.
And this is why David Conn’s book is so valuable — not just as an interesting read but as a concise, accessible documentation of the intricate corruption scandals that have dogged football. Conn cuts a path through the festering forest of greed that finally we can follow.
For accountability cannot be obtained in the public eye unless the public fully understand what is going on — one of the reasons the Panama Papers’ release, or the Wikileaks dump, failed to garner the desired long-term impact. The Fall of the House of FIFA is a perfectly straightforward blow-to-blow account of how FIFA’s greedy tentacles have gotten in a sorry knot.
Conn unravels this tangle to provide us with something of a concise understanding of events covering the past five decades. It is a superb go-to guide for anyone seeking context on why Qatar won the 2022 World Cup bid, why Coca Cola — a largely American brand — splashes its name on a largely non-American sport, and why hope remains that the mess can eventually be cleaned up.