As we noted in our immediately preceding blog post, global soccer is under a strong international spotlight. Although that is of course nothing new, the intense focus that is presently affixed upon the sport is not, as usual, on its mega superstars.
Rather, it is on a number of top-echelon FIFA executives (our June 1 post entry fleshes out FIFA and its preeminent role in global soccer) and their alleged participation in a colossal white collar fraud scheme involving tax evasion, money laundering, bribery and kickbacks.
For sheer scope, the criminal investigation into international soccer seems flatly singular in its dimensions. A recent New York Times article chronicling the unprecedented events surrounding FIFA reports that FBI and IRS investigative teams worked together for years and ultimately coordinated with law enforcement agents from more than 30 nations. The Times refers to the probe “as one of the most complicated white-collar cases in recent memory.”
The breadth and depth of the investigation is understandable, given authorities’ statements regarding the brazen nature and extent of unlawful conduct committed by FIFA officials across the world, including in the United States.
Of course, the indictments that were issued to a number of top FIFA executives last week spell out allegations that have not been proven in a court of law. Many of the persons targeted in the global probe will undoubtedly issue statements in upcoming weeks that challenge prosecutors’ claims. The indictments are merely an initial step in the criminal process.
However that process unfolds, it is sure to be conducted under the same glaring spotlight that is now firmly fixed upon FIFA. We will keep readers duly informed of material developments that ensue.
Source: The New York Times, “A U.S. tax investigation snowballed to stun the soccer world,” Matt Apuzzo, May 29, 2015