Bakari Clemmons | Contributing Writer
Many were shocked to not see Blatter on the list of indicted FIFA officials, considering he had been the leader of the corporation that was involved in various under-the-table deals. During his speech following his re-election, Sepp Blatter boastfully said, “I am the President of everybody.” Bloomberg Business has stated that these arrests and investigations have tainted Blatter’s presidency and FIFA as a whole. ABC News stated earlier today that Blatter is currently under investigation by the FBI. The FBI has not released any information on the case due to Blatter not yet being identified as a target of the investigation.
These investigations could not have come at a worse time for Blatter, who was re-elected in the 65th FIFA Congress on May 29th. Blatter was in his 17th year and fifth term as President. With the FIFA World Cup only three years away, damaging allegations were recently brought to light, dating back to the early 90’s. Fourteen FIFA officials, nine current/former FIFA figures and five involved in sports marketing have been charged by the Department of Justice for connection with an investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.
These allegations involve more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks, spanning two decades in soccer’s controversial governing body. According to ABC News, seven were arrested in Zurich by Swiss authorities at the request of the United States. Four other individuals and corporate defendants (Traffic Sports USA Inc., Traffic Sports International Inc. and Brazilian sports marketing conglomerate, the Traffic Group) have already pleaded guilty. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch shared in a press conference in New York on the day the indictments were issued that “these individuals, through these organizations, engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where the games would be held and who would run the organization overseeing organized soccer worldwide.”
The 14 officials that have been indicted are: Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, Aaron Davidson of the U.S., Nicholas Leoz of Paraguay, Alejandro Burzaco of Argentina, Eugenio Figured of the U.S. and Uruguay, Jose Maria Marin of Brazil, Julio Rocha of Nicaragua, Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela, Costas Takkas of the UK, Hugo Jinkis of Argentina, Mariano Jinkis of Argentina, and José Margulies of Brazil.
Within minutes of Blatter’s resignation, the fight for the FIFA presidency continued. The remaining candidates for the presidency are Michel Platini, Ali bin al-Hussein, Luis Figo, Ted Howard, Senes Erik, Isaa Haytou, and Greg Dyke. UEFA President Michel Platini has the best odds to become the next FIFA President, according to http://www.espnfc.com.
Many individuals, including U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, hope that change will soon come to FIFA. Gulati released a statement on the 2015 FIFA Presidential election result saying, “While we are disappointed in the result of the election, we will continue to push for meaningful change within FIFA.” With investigations still ongoing, the world of soccer hopes to seek justice for the wrongdoings that have occurred over the past two decades.