Saturday, November 11, 2017

FIFA World Cup- Going to Highest Bidder (2015)

FIFA's official logo
             The Federation Internationale de Football Association or FIFA was created in 1904 and held it's first tournament in July of 1930 after the popularity of football, or soccer, in the Olympic games. A committee was formed in 1928 to create a world soccer tournament to be held in Uruguay in the summer of 1930, and bring the world's top players together to compete. The tournament's popularity grew over the years and became a large-scale business as the profits brought in from the games soared. The most popular and largest cities in the world wanted to host the tournament because of the tourism and advertising it brought. This created economic boosts for these host cities which created competition between countries as they all wanted to host the games. The pressure to host the games caused some country's leaders to act unethically to have the upper-hand on opposing countries.

British comedian known as Lee Nelson (unseen) throws banknotes at
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (pictured above)
 Fast forward 85 years to 2015 when we uncover evidence of  FIFA's top officials taking advantage of the popularity of the tournament. Corruption in FIFA has been happening for years according to evidence found after investigations into their top executives actions revealed decades of racketeering, bribery and corruption. This lead to charges against 14 people, 9 of which were FIFA executives. Despite the ongoing investigation into the President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, was reelected into a fifth, 4 year term as president of the association. He would later step down as president as evidence of his corrupt actions stacked up. Evidence of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery was found against FIFA officials along with members of government in various countries as a result of countries wanting to host the games. Investigations into FIFA officials actions began in 2011 after Mohamed bin Hammam, a former FIFA committee executive, was found guilty of accepting bribes and banned from the tournament and anything involving the tournament for life. This sparked the formal investigation to begin in 2012 when U.S. attorney Michael Garcia was elected to head the investigation into FIFA. After 2 years, FIFA's ethics committee published Garcia's report which confirmed Russia and Qatar's bids after wrongdoings associated with their bids did not justify reopening the bidding process. U.S. Attorney Garcia did not agree with their summary of his report and said their analysis was incorrect.
FBI agents carry boxes and computers from the headquarters of
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football
CONCACAF) after it was raided
            After Garcia's investigation, a new one was opened by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch
which uncovered decades of bribery totaling more than $150 million. Charges were pressed against 14 people within the FIFA organization, 7 were arrested. Top officials from various countries were also found to have given bribes along with sports companies that also gave bribes to get their clothing and products for the tournament. A few weeks later, Sepp Blatter resigned as the President of FIFA and suggested it needed severe restructuring.


Artist portrayal suggesting behind FIFA is money and their actions
are based solely on profit for themselves.
Individualist theory suggests that as long as they are acting within the laws of the country and acting within ethical standards set by the organization while respecting human rights. The goal is to make money for stakeholders, but doing so ethically. In the FIFA case, it made money for stakeholders as the games were held in various countries, but it also hurt many other countries as their bids were not chosen. FIFA executives, country leaders and company leaders acted unethically according to their ethical code of conduct and also broke many laws by giving and accepting bribes, racketeering, and buying and selling their votes for host cities. Human rights were violated, because the voting process was corrupt from bribes given and taken between leaders of countries and companies to FIFA associates which creates an unfair "playing ground". An individualist would not agree with the actions of executives because although it does produce money for shareholders, it causes them to lose money or even their jobs when they are found guilty. FIFA needed restructuring which is what they have been doing since. The president of FIFA stepped down in order to accomplish this. Committees pertaining to ethics need to be enacted to continuously track what FIFA officials are doing to keep them from acting unethically in order to recover from this scandal.


Utilitarianism promotes the idea that an action is acceptable, given that it promotes happiness to all that are affected. Happiness for all is the most important aspect for utilitarians. The action should promote happiness within you and others, and the action that produces the most universal happiness should be the one chosen. In the FIFA scandal, executives, country leaders and company leaders that were involved with the bribery were happy because they were getting what they wanted. But after the
Nike's logo with suggestion of bribery
during FIFA scandal
investigation, more people were unhappy because their country was not selected as the result of people acting unethically. Other clothing or shoe companies were not chosen because of bribes given to country leaders by Nike, to use their clothing for uniforms and merchandise. As a result of this scandal, many people were left unhappy as millions of soccer fans and citizens of countries no longer trusted FIFA. For countries that wanted the tournament held in their major city, the risk was worth their money because the few million dollars spent for a bribe would produce millions more in returns as tourism would get a large boost. Top officials of FIFA would benefit because they are making extra money but when found guilty they lost their freedom or had to pay heavy fines for their actions. Companies found to have been involved in bribery would also be hurt by bad publicity if found guilty as they would be seen as untrustworthy and unethical if they gave bribes to countries so that they would use their products.


Kantian ethics suggests that we act respectfully toward one-another and do the right thing. Kant suggest that we all have a humanly duty to respect each other and our actions should reflect that respect. FIFA did not act respectfully towards other countries that did not offer bribes. They took advantage of corrupt countries that did not act ethically. Countries that offered bribes also did not respect other countries as they paid bribes to have their country selected. Clothing companies acted unethically and without respect to consumers and competitors as they paid bribes to countries so they would use their brand to make uniforms for players and merchandise for consumers. Consumers only had the option to buy products featuring their favorite players and teams made using the company that sponsors those payers and teams. They were selected as sponsors unfairly as they offered bribes to achieve that status. According to Kant's Formula of Humanity, humanity is the most important aspect of our being. Acting respectfully toward each other should be held above all else. In this case respect for others was forgotten as officials saw a means to benefit for themselves. For FIFA to truly evaluate if their action is in good faith they should have first evaluated if it was coming from good will or not. If they had thought about if it was ethically correct for them to accept the bribes they most likely would have chosen not to. Second, they should have Asked if it was the right action. Again looking at the action from the point of view of all affected by their action. Third, Ask if it is the right action or if it is ethically correct. And the fourth step is to ask if you have the right motivation in doing it. The motivation here was greed which is not an acceptable motivating force.

Virtue Theory

Virtue theory has four attributes that decide if someone or something is acting ethically. Courage is the first attribute which means the courage to do what is right. FIFA did not have the courage to do what was right, which would have been to call out the people who they knew were accepting or paying out bribes. This would have shown the world that they act ethically and would not be tempted by unethical people or companies. The second attribute is honesty, which makes the association people open about everything they do as well as act within a code of ethics to maintain that honesty. FIFA again broke this attribute as they lied and covered up their scandal. They lied about taking bribes and acted dishonestly by accepting them. The third attribute is temperance which is defined as having self-control in order to do what is right. FIFA showed its lack of temperance as they accepted bribes from all around in order to make more money for themselves and not caring who was affected badly in doing so. Countries who offered bribes to FIFA showed their lac of temperance as they would do anything to be the country selected. The final attribute is justice which involves the area between selfishness and selflessness. FIFA demonstrated no justice as they only acted selfishly by accepting bribes to benefit themselves while hurting others. All parties involved in this scandal, FIFA, Various country leaders, and various company leaders, are all guilty of not following Virtue theory as they all discarded every attribute of the theory in some way. 
      The FIFA bribery and corruption scandal is an ongoing process that still continues today. Some FIFA officials are still on trial for their actions and involvement in the scandal. Others are in prison, have been banned for life from FIFA, or are paying heavy fines. FIFA has hired new executives and elected a new president in order to help correct what they have done.
FIFA Headquarters 

Sources cited:

The Weekly Plan. "The History of Football and the FIFA World Cup. History of FIFA retrieved from

CBS. May 25, 2015. Sepp Blatter resigns Retrieved from

News 18. (November 5, 2017). FIFA top officials arrested retrieved from

Fox Sports AP. (October 25, 2017).FIFA officials sentencing retrieved from

Salazaar, Heather. "Kantian Business Ethics". and from 2017 Fall semester class notes

Mcfarland, Kevin. (May 27, 2015). "Everything You Need to Know about FIFA's Corruption Scandal".

CNN. (January 16, 2016).


  1. Evan,

    As a huge soccer fan and social media user, I had already read a lot about this case and all the corruption within FIFA. However, I found your take on this refreshing and easy to read. I was always going to be interested in reading this post, but you did a very good job of keeping my attention. I also like how you compared where FIFA is now to what it used to be back when it first started out. It was a good comparison to show how corrupt things having gotten and that they are literally handing out the biggest competition in the world of sports to the highest bidder. It also served as a good history lesson to point out that when the organization was initially formed it was innocent and simply wanted to entertain. I hope the Revised final version of this blogpost is just as solid.

  2. I think you did a really good job with this blog. I had heard of this scandal through word of mouth, but did not know much about it. I still will never understand why companies like FIFA think they can get away with accepting bribes from countries. It is un fair and un ethical that fifa did that because just as you stated in your blog it gives other less wealthy countries a disadvantage. great job with this project.