Fifa corruption: what is going on and what happens next?

The FBI and Swiss probes explained, and what it means for the embattled Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter Fifa

Sepp Blatter has refused to step down as president of Fifa following a crisis meeting in Zurich, called after senior officials were arrested on corruption charges and a Swiss authorities began a criminal investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup voting process.

Blatter was urged to quit by Michel Platini, head of Uefa, football's governing body in Europe, in a one-to-one discussion after the meeting of senior figures, reports the BBC.

However, the 79-year-old refused to stand aside, despite the crisis engulfing the organisation, and insisted that he would stand for an unprecedented fifth term in office in the presidential election, scheduled for Friday.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Here's what Fifa is dealing with:

US corruption investigation

The FBI first took an interest in soccer after allegations of corruption and bribery in the controversial vote which saw Russia and Qatar win the right to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The US was one of the bidders to host the 2022 tournament.

The FBI probe focused on members of Concacaf, the organisation that governs football in North and Central America.

"The investigation covers almost a quarter of a century of alleged fraud, bribery and money laundering in which well over $150m (£97.5m) changed hands," reports the Daily Telegraph. "The FBI has examined kickbacks said to have been received by football officials in relation to the rights to various tournaments in Central and South America, as well as the 2010 World Cup and 2011 Fifa presidential election."

Much of the evidence has come from Chuck Blazer, a former Fifa executive who turned informer in order to escape fraud and tax evasion charges.

"The Department of Justice's indictment says that the corruption was planned in the US, even if it was then carried out elsewhere. The use of US banks to transfer money appears to be key to the investigation," says the BBC.

Who has been arrested?

The Fifa officials arrested in a dawn raid on Monday "are football powerbrokers in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean," says the BBC.

Among them is Jeffrey Webb, a Fifa vice-president, head of Concacaf and favourite to succeed Blatter as president. His predecessor, Jack Warner, who was suspended by Fifa in 2011, was also arrested in Trinidad.

Click on the image below for a who's who of those arrested

What about the Swiss probe?

The Swiss investigation relates directly to the controversial 2010 vote that saw Russia and Qatar win the rights to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. There entire voting process was mired in controversy and even Fifa was unable to ignore the avalanche of allegations about bribery that emerged before, during and after the meeting.

But despite commissioning US attorney Michael Garcia to undertake an internal investigation into the vote Fifa said his findings showed nothing untoward and dismissed his report, much to Garcia's fury.

However, the findings were passed to the Swiss attorney general and he has decided there is a case to answer. He will now question the ten surviving non-Swiss executive committee members who took part in the 2010 vote.

The Swiss authorities also seized evidence relating to the vote from Fifa offices in Zurich yesterday after agreeing to co-ordinate their raids with the US investigation.

What happens now?

With Blatter refusing to resign or delay the vote, he is likely to win a fifth term as president, thanks to his support among the powerful voting blocs of Asia and Africa.

Uefa has pledged to back his rival Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan and has also made it known that they will demand an emergency general meeting and propose a motion of no confidence if Blatter wins by a small margin.

What about the next World Cups?

There have been calls for a revote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups for many years, "but it would take overwhelming evidence to run the bidding process again", says the BBC.

"Moving the 2018 Russia World Cup would be fraught with difficulty. Very few countries have the stadiums, infrastructure or money to host the event at such short notice.

"Qatar is far more vulnerable and has been dogged with controversy and allegations of corruption ever since its award. However, having seen out several corruption scandals, an unprecedented move from a summer to winter tournament and a scandal over the treatment of migrant workers, the odds are it will somehow hold onto football's most illustrious competition."

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us