Crisis PR & FIFA Having a Rough Week
When it wasn’t looking, international soccer took a shot right to the head, and it may be the best thing – PR-wise – that has happened to FIFA in decades.
Allegations have been leveled recently against at least one voting member of FIFA’s World Cup committee. According to the allegations, when the big money was on the line, at least one vote on the council was up for sale. The New York Times is reporting that prosecutors are alleging Jack Warner, a committee member from Trinidad and Tobago, actively shopped his ballot to the highest bidder.
Accordingly, Morocco offered Warner $1 million for his swing vote. South Africa offered ten times that amount. Yes, he voted for South Africa, and South Africa got the 2010 World Cup. Warner got his money, and the whole of international soccer was left with egg on its face. After all, once a judge is effectively bought, everything becomes little more than a bidding war.
Now that these allegations have come to light, U.S. officials are dropping the hammer. A massive indictment against a host of officials and executives alleges these individuals collectively corrupted the sport through two decades of back alley deals, bribery and criminal behavior more often associated with mob bosses and racketeering charges.
Subsequently, Swiss officers arrested multiple top FIFA officials … and the American Justice Department declared it was just getting started.
The news rocked the FIFA organization and the world of international soccer. But millions of fans worldwide cheered the events, calling them justice for years of alleged and suspected corruption at the very top of the FIFA organization. They lauded words like “systemic corruption” and “multiple arrests” blasting their excitement out through both traditional and social media outlets.
Now, everyone at FIFA not about to end up in court has some important decisions to make. Do they attempt to win back the trust of their fans by treating the corrupt old guard like a bandage that just needs to be ripped right off quickly? Or do they dig in and defend the honor of their colleagues against all accusers – foreign and domestic.
It’s a tough call. Side with the accused and risk almost certainly being painted with the same brush, lawbreaker or no. However, side with the prosecution and risk the wrath of any defendants that escape the long arm of international law. But FIFA better decide soon. Their fan base is waiting, and if officials delay, they are likely to make up their own minds without waiting for the courts to decide on the facts.