Soccer world rocked by scandal
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
Fixed, rigged, pre-determined, influenced. Pick up a thesaurus and find your own favourite word for it; soccer has once again been rocked by a major scandal. Europol has found evidence that suggests approximately 680 games have been rigged over the past few years. These games even include some World Cup qualifying matches, European qualifying matches, and Champions League matches. Europol has stated that 425 referees, players, club officials, and serious criminals from more than 15 countries are alleged to have been in on the act.
Facts are still trickling through for public consumption, but it seems that not only games have been fixed; the 2022 World Cup to be hosted by Qatar has been cast into doubt, along with it, the 2018 World Cup and 2014 World Cup by Russia and Brazil respectively. The USA (2022) and England (2018) both submitted bids that, in a logical world, should have won, but for some mysterious reason, didn’t. It’s gotten so ridiculous that some have questioned South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup back in 2010. FIFA is having a rough go of it these days.
But why should anyone be surprised? This is soccer after all. Match-fixing is as much a part of the game as diving Italians. Tales of teams throwing games routinely pop up over the years and FIFA has, more or less, always been viewed as corrupt anyway. Everyone already knew that the Qatar bid was going to win the 2022 World Cup, and everyone knew that the USA’s bid should have taken it. The States already had a solid fan base, the necessary stadiums, and very little to do in terms of upgrades. Qatar, on the other hand, has exceptionally deep pockets. The USA really had no chance.
Despite none of this World Cup news being a shock, it is still disturbing. Before these latest tidbits broke out, fans could still pretend that everything was rosy and they were just being overly cynical of the system. Rumours are just rumours. You can’t hang someone without proof. And yes, currently the shadow cast over the World Cup bids can still be classified as nothing more than a rumour, but a case is steadily growing. On a related note, anyone who follows soccer realizes that there are some games that are rigged, but it was always assumed that match-fixing took place primarily in lesser-known leagues or Italy. However, with Europol revealing that even a match in England was influenced, everything has been cast into doubt. The qualifying games being fixed is troubling more still. I’ve always made cracks about the recent Italian and Spanish titles as being predetermined, but the thought that there may be more than just the bitter musings of an Irish fan to such accusations isn’t a pleasant thought.
FIFA, and soccer in general, needs to get a handle on things quickly. When a fan can’t trust in the authenticity of the action on the pitch, the game loses its magic. It’s time for corruption to cash out.