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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: FIFA, La Liga, and the Ultimate Irony

Chuck Blazer’s locker of corruption, match fixing in La Liga, and FIFA is concerned about bribes.

U15 Girl’s Netherlands v U15 Girl’s Germany - International Friendly Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images for DFB

Ever feel that the world of soccer is full of darkness? Do you wonder if FIFA and other organizations are using the game we love as their own personal sandbox for kicking dirt in the face of all that is good and pure? The answer is yes, they are. Today we’re going to pick up the tarp covering the mud in the beautiful game.

The Good

In what could be the biggest example of irony ever, FIFA wants all 24 nations competing in the 2019 Women’s World Cup to attend a presentation on what to do if they are approached about fixing a match. This is good. We want the sport to played in a good, corruption-free manner. There have been some match-fixing cases in Norway, but fortunately it isn’t rampant like the bribes that FIFA officials have received over the years. Of course, women players would be less susceptible to such offers if they were making more money. Perhaps if they had salaries similar to their male counterparts, they might not turn to such illicit mechanisms of making money? I think paying women a competitive salary is a good idea, but it’s not necessarily going to keep people on the right path.

The Bad

Where were the anti-bribery classes for La Liga? Several current and former players in the top two levels of the league were arrested for fixing matches. Inquiries are also being made into the lower division’s teams and players. Several of the key matches being investigated involve Real Valladolid, a team that is majority owned by former Brazil and La Liga star Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima. Former Real Madrid player Raul Bravo is the apparent ringleader of a larger match-fixing scheme. Evidently a bigger salary as a player doesn’t mean you’re immune to the lure of easy money. Let’s hope La Liga officials are able to root out all the culprits.

The Ugly

Remember Chuck Blazer? He was the informant who helped the FBI with those glorious indictments of more than 40 corrupt FIFA officials. He himself had pleaded guilty to 10 counts, including bribery, money laundering and tax evasion. Blazer passed away in 2017 before being able to serve all his time, but he might still be acting as an informant from the grave. It seems the man hated throwing anything away and, as such, had plenty of additional information stowed in a New Jersey storage locker. Potentially dozens more corrupt FIFA officials could see indictments once authorities get their hands on the information. Of course, Blazer also had a ton of other items stored, including a 1952 Mercedes-Benz Adenauer. Blazer made millions in bribes in his time with FIFA and Concacaf. I’m pretty certain he wasn’t the only one, and now we might get some more criminals to take down.

Hopefully, I haven’t depressed you too much. After all, we do have the World Cup to watch soon, the Champions League final is Saturday, and the MLS season rolls on. It’s not all bad, I promise.