Saying that corruption is rampant at FIFA is a lot like saying the ocean is a little bit wet. Not only is it an understatement but it fails to describe how much of one it is. After last week's indictment of 14 high ranking FIFA officials and sports marketing executives around the world by the FBI, Sepp Blatter has tried to continue as if nothing has happened.
The 65th FIFA Congress was held last Friday despite pressure from UEFA to postpone it in light of recent events. Congress was held anyways, including the long-awaited voting for the next FIFA President. In a shock to absolutely no one, Sepp Blatter won a 5th consecutive term as President as his rival Prince Ali of Jordan bowed out after voting in the 1st round. Sepp earned 133 of the 209 votes in that round, not enough to win outright. Before the second round could be held, Ali bowed out after being unable to turn enough votes his way.
Now this morning it's come to light that Jerome Valcke, Sepp Blatter's #2 man at FIFA and Secretary General, might have been involved in the bribery scandal being investigated by the FBI. The New York Times reports that the FBI is alleging that Valcke facilitated the transfer of funds from the South Africa Federation to Jack Warner. The payment, in the amount of $10 million USD, was for Warner's vote for South Africa to host the World Cup in 2010. Part of the FBI's interest in Warner is for this very issue.
What complicates things for FIFA is that South Africa was unable to pay Warner for his vote directly so they asked Valcke to make the payment on their behalf using FIFA funds. The letter in full is below:
This comes as a huge blow to Blatter who has been insulated from this corruption to date. With the arrest of Warner, currently out on bond in Trinidad awaiting extradition, and now with Valcke in the hot seat, Blatter is quickly losing the people he relied upon for decades to continue the corruption at FIFA. What's worse is that these are the same people who can point out where police authorities need to look, or whom to talk to, in order to find evidence needed to bring Blatter down. However, it must be remembered that South African authorities have not denied that the $10 million payment was made, but they have alleged that it was a legitimate payment to a CONCACAF developmental fund. Meanwhile, FIFA have alleged that the payment was actually made by Julio Grondona, a former FIFA executive who died last year. This letter proves that it is false.
With Swiss authorities investigating FIFA for fraud, in relation to the voting process for 2018 and 2022 World Cups (with an assist from Michael Garcia, yes that Garcia), along with authorities in Argentina and Brazil opening investigations, things are getting hot for FIFA. If federal authorities in the US can arrest Valcke and turn him against Sepp, it's possible for Blatter to be ousted well before his four year term is over.
As John Oliver put it so well, fans are desperate for that to happen. And yes, if sponsors speed that process along, you can bet that staff here and fans around the world will support those sponsors.