First came the penalties, now come the red cards.
A lot of them.
Heads are rolling throughout FIFA today, as the U.S. Department of Justice indicted 14 high-ranking officials within the organization on charges of corruption and bribery. FIFA is accused of fixing elections and World Cup bids, among other transgressions.
Scale of 1-10, how surprising is this?
“A one-and-a-half?” FOX Sports 1 soccer analyst Eric Wynalda asked on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Look, as this information started to kind of come out, to many people, it’s a bombshell. But I think there’s been this perception of corruption that has (resulted in) this dark cloud that just kind of hovers over our game. For us, to be totally honest, we’re happy that this has happened. And why it’s taken so long is because it’s a process. Give Loretta Lynch, our attorney general, all the credit in the world. She’s been working on this for approximately two years. It’s a lot of information, and she’s culminated a really strong case against some people that have been doing some wrong stuff. When justice prevails and you don’t pay your taxes, it usually catches up to you.”
That is why Wynalda feels Wednesday is not a dark day for soccer, but rather, a turning point, an opportunity for change.
“For us, as soccer people, we feel that this is an unbelievable opportunity for the game to have some transparency, for the game to get cleaned up a little bit and to not have that constant – that word corruption,” he said. “We all hate it. This has been what is viewed by the FBI as a corrupt enterprise that decided to filter their money through our system, and they got caught. Kudos to Loretta. She put it together and let’s get rid of the bad guys.”
There is speculation that recent World Cup bids – Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022 – could once again be up for grabs, especially Qatar. From the weather to countless human-rights violations – an estimated 5,000 people will die building soccer stadiums and preparing the country for the event – Qatar is arguably the most controversial bid in World Cup history.
What are the odds the World Cup is actually played there?
“I would be astonished if it (is),” Wynalda said. “There’s a lot of people that say (it’s not) going to change. There’s too many logistical parts of soccer the way it happens on the planet and the timing of it. I saw (Jeremy Schaap’s) report. That’s just an absolute disgrace that this situation is even happening in the first place. People are dying. The process is not a normal one at all, and playing in 124-degree heat is never something that’s conducive to safety when it comes to the players. So I’d be very surprised (if the World Cup is played there). I think there will be a reevaluation process. Once they get to the bottom of where the World Cup is, we’re still going to cover it – wherever it ends up. But I think Americans are hoping that there’s an outside chance that it might fall in our backyard again.”