FIFA’s Latest Indictments and the Future of its Leadership

Loretta Lynch of DOJ

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch

The FIFA corruption scandal is far from over apparently. 16 more officials were indicted over the past few days, leading to further chaos and questions about the sport’s governing body. Some of the officials indicted were installed after the previous round of indictments, which begs the question just how far does the corruption go?

Most of the officials indicted were from the CONCACAF and CONMEBOL regions. The list of the indicted is very long, and very politically connected. Alfredo Hewit, Ariel Alvarado, Rafael Callejas, Brayan Jimenez, Rafael Salguero, Hector Trujillo, Reynaldo Vasquez, Juan Angel Napout, Manuel Burga, Carlos Chavez, Luis Chiriboga, Marco Polo del Nero, Eduardo Deluca, Jose Luis Meiszner, Romer Osuna, and Ricardo Teixeira are the names so far.

Rafael Callejas is the former President of Honduras, while Hector Trujillo is a judge on the Constitutional Court of Guatemala. Needless to say, those two alone are some major juice in this investigation. We have already seen national politics and sport spill over into one another, but this goes all the way to the top of certain countries. At least 6 of the current and former members of the Executive Committee have been indicted or convicted. Any way you look at it, this whole fiasco has been extremely appalling for an organization that prides itself on fair play.

Looking to the future, there is still plenty to speculate about. We know that Sepp Blatter will be stepping down and that there will be a new President elected come February. Blatter has broken numerous election promises before, but this one seems pretty set in stone. A special Ad-hoc Electoral committee reviewed and vetted candidates who declared their intention to stand for the election. Eventually, 5 were decided upon and will be on the ballot.

Prince Ali Al Hussein is a popular pick amongst many. The only man to stand and get enough support to run against Blatter in the most recent election is a young fresh face that has been promoting himself with a vision of transparency for the organization. The 39-year-old has a solid backing and will likely be a strong candidate in the race considering he drummed up support previously.

Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa is the current president of the AFC and a member of the Bahrain royal family. His candidacy has already been criticized by multiple human rights organizations, but it should be noted that he made it through the Ad-hoc committees vetting, which others did not. With two candidates from the AFC region, it seems like an uphill climb for the Sheikh, but with FIFA, nothing is impossible.

Jerome Champagne was the first to announce his candidacy against Blatter in 2015, but fell short in gaining enough support to be on the ballot. This time around though, he is in a better position. He has released detailed reports and plans as to his goals for the position. The Frenchman is one of two candidates from the UEFA region, which has historically been very influential. With a clear vision, Champagne will be a candidate to watch out for.

Gianni Infantino is the other UEFA-based candidate. The dual Swiss-Italian is the general secretary of UEFA, where he has served since 2009. He has preached a message of expansion for the major tournaments, including the World Cup. He oversaw the expansion for Euro 2016 to 24 teams, and has stated that he would like to see 40 teams at the World Cup. That message might resonate with smaller nations who otherwise might just vote with the rest of their region. He also has the unanimous backing of the UEFA Executive Committee. In the vote-rich region, that is a huge endorsement.

Tokyo Sexwale is a South African businessman who has made it through the vetting process. He is the least involved candidate in terms of soccer-specific business. In what would seem like an unlikely bid, Sexwale has a huge advantage being from the CAF region. Africa has a reputation of voting as a bloc, and being the only candidate from the region, he is more likely than any other candidate to garner an entire African bloc. CAF is the largest region in FIFA, with 54 members and votes.

A wildcard in the race is Michel Platini. Platini is the current president of UEFA, and has been placed on a 90-day suspension from FIFA. The Ad-hoc committee have said that they would review him as a candidate after the suspension has been completed. Gianni Infantino has subtly hinted that he would step aside if Platini was indeed admitted into the race. Platini is a powerful man in soccer, and would likely become the immediate favorite if he becomes a candidate.

CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, and Oceania are all swing votes, considering no candidates from those regions are running. They will be very influential in the election, but there is no telling which way they are leaning as of now. Hopefully we will have a fresh start in February.

Read more of our ongoing FIFA corruption coverage

 

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About the author: Dominic Habjan

 

I am a contributor to SoccerPro’s blogs, and truly enjoy writing about the World’s Game. I support Sporting KC, US National Team, and Slovenian National Team. I follow the Premier League but don’t necessarily have a favorite club. I am an avid sports fan, but prefer college to professional leagues in every sport with exception to soccer. I love the Mizzou Tigers, KC Royals, and KC Chiefs. Outside sports I enjoy movies, music, and musical theatre.

Website: https://www.soccerpro.com

 

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