“The Fall of the House of FIFA: The Multi-Million Dollar Corruption at the Heart of Global Soccer” by David Conn
Soccer, Football (European), politics, international
June 6, 2017
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Shock waves were sent through the soccer world when it was announced that the 2022 World Cup tournament would be held in Qatar during the summer months of the northern hemisphere. Many asked how this could happen and what was the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) thinking when they did this. A subsequent investigation found that allegations of kickbacks, bribery, money laundering and tax evasion played a big role in this announcement and also the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia.
These well-known incidents of corruption, as well as lesser known ones, some dating back to the 1970’s, are covered in this well-researched and through book on FIFA by award winning writer David Conn. He exposes so many incidents of bribery and other questionable actions by FIFA officials that one may get lost trying to keep them all straight. The old vendor cry that you can’t keep the players straight without a scorecard is applicable here, even though there is very little written about the actual games on the pitch.
Some of the specifics in the reports and interviews of the book will leave the reader shaking his or her head. One of these passages that did that for me was in the report of an investigation in bribery accusations, FIFA “believed bribery was a part of the routine facts of life in South America and Africa.” This after the organization had denied any corruption in those areas after sending millions of dollars for development of the game and facilities in which to play. If you are confused after reading that, then so was I.
That was just one passage of many that highlight the extent of the corruption in the organization and Conn writes about them with the knowledge only a veteran writer of the sport and the organization can do. His interview with FIFA President Sepp Blatter was also must-read material. This book is one that readers who are interested in the inner workings, good and bad (mostly the latter) of one of the biggest sports institutions in the world must add to their bookshelves.
I wish to thank the Nation Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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