So you have read all the media stories and marveled at the corruption scandal engulfing FIFA. So intrigued, you might even have braved the 164 pages of the United States of America’s indictment against 14 defendants associated with the enterprise governing ‘soccer’ or, as the indictment quaintly puts it, “commonly known outside the United States as football”.
It is time to find out how much you really know. To that end, here is a quiz to test your mental muscle and FIFA obsession, against your work colleagues, your friends or perhaps just yourself.
If you win, you have a couple of options. For teetotalers, your prize is mental superiority. For everyone else, perhaps a schnapps or two, the unofficial national drink of Switzerland where FIFA is headquartered.
A word of caution
Before we begin, let us understand the status of the indictment.
The indictment consists of allegations not findings. Accordingly, when answering the quiz, mentally insert the word ‘allegedly’ before each claim or ‘fact’ because everyone is entitled to be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Please lift your pencils and let us begin. The rules are simple. Unless the question states otherwise, you score one point for each correct answer.
Complete the tally at the end to discover if you are a FIFA Novice, a FIFA Expert, or something in between.
Question 1: On the Daily Show, Jon Stewart said: “You’re welcome!” in response to the apparently tenuous connection enabling the United States to bring criminal proceedings against FIFA representatives. What connection did he refer to?
- Some of the defendants own property there
- At least one of the defendants is a United States’ citizen
- The principal administrative office of CONCACAF is in Miami, Florida
- Bank accounts in the United States, and particularly New York, were used to transfer money for corrupt purposes
- The United States and four of its overseas territories are member associations of FIFA
- At least all of the above
Answer: 4. – Humour does not require precision, but in fact the indictment refers to at least all of the above. No doubt prosecutors are keen to establish United States’ jurisdiction to hear the case, hence the frequently cited connections.
Question 2: Has the indictment been tested by the United States’ court system in any way before being made public?
Answer: YES. The matters were tested by a grand jury before the indictment was filed in the Brooklyn office of the US District Court on 20 May 2015. The grand jury process is now abandoned in most other countries around the world, but remains in the United States. A grand jury is the group of men and women (23 it seems, in New York where this indictment originated) who decide whether there is enough evidence to take the case to the next level. In Australia, the equivalent is the committal.
On its face, this suggests readers of the indictment can be confident that the grand jury ‘filter’ means there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to allow conclusions to be drawn about the defendants’ conduct. Not so. There are at least three reasons to exercise caution:
First, a judge does not preside over a grand jury (in Australia, whether a person is committed to trial is determined by a Magistrate). The jury is in the hands of the prosecutor who naturally has a particular barrow to push.
Secondly, the hearing is ex parte, meaning the defendant does not turn up, likely does not know about it and has no say (in Australia, the defendant is entitled to be present for the committal).
Thirdly, according to The Economist, of 162,000 grand jury cases in 2010, only 11 did not proceed to indictment (recent racial unrest such as in Ferguson has been attributed to grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers for killing unarmed black men). One expects the number of ultimate acquittals at trial to be higher than the grand jury statistic.
Question 3: Is there a difference between a ‘bribe’ and a ‘kickback’?
Answer: YES. There is a difference, in that a kickback is a type of bribe. A bribe is essentially the supply of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty. A kickback is a form of negotiated bribery, usually negotiated ahead of time, in which a commission is paid to the bribe-taker for ‘services rendered’.
Other popular terms in the indictment are racketeering (essentially criminal activity performed to benefit an organization, including money laundering, obstruction of justice and bribery) and money laundering (the manner in which the original ownership and control of the proceeds of crime is disguised, by making the money appear to come from a legitimate source).
Question 4: Which defendants win the popularity contest by being mentioned the most times in the indictment? Circle the top three for one point each.
Jeffrey Webb, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Jack Warner, Eugenio Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin, Nicolas Leoz, Alejandro Burzaco, Aaron Davidson, Hugo Jinkis, Mariano Jinkis and José Margulies.
Answer: Warner, Webb and Leoz.
Jack Warner wins by a comfortable margin, as he is mentioned 103 times in the indictment. His successor, Jeffrey Webb is mentioned 73 times. Nicolas Leoz is mentioned 69 times. Father and son team Hugo and Mariano Jinkis are collectively mentioned 53 times. The rest have about 20 to 30 mentions each. The wildcard is Eduardo Li: A search for ‘Li’ resulted in numerous hits but that includes within unrelated names (at which point the author became a little tired and decided to ‘let it go’).
The claims made against Jack Warner in the indictment are not to be confused with allegations made after he was charged.
For instance, after obtaining release from prison on health grounds, and after being transported from a Trinidad jail to hospital in an ambulance for exhaustion, Mr Warner was photographed hours later dancing at a political rally.
For instance, Mr Warner apparently misinterpreted as the real deal a satirical article in The Onion suggesting that FIFA was scrambling to host a ‘Summer World Cup’ in the United States immediately.
Question 5: For one point each, provide the real names of the first two gentleman, and for two points, the ‘AKA’ surname of the 14th defendant in the indictment.
- Sepp Blatter
- Chuck Blazer
- José Margulies
Answer: Josef Blatter, Charles Blazer, José Margulies is also known as José Lazaro (as to why, no explanation is readily available).
Question 6: Can you name the full names of the following organisations? One point for each, other than b. and c. where you get two points. Hint: You might need to practice a foreign accent for some of them.
Answer: FIFA (The Fédération Internationale de Football Association), CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), CONMEBOL (Confederación Sudamericana de Fütbol), UEFA (the Union des Associations Europénnes de Football), CAF (the Confédération Africaine de Football), AFC (the Asian Football Confederation), OCF (Oceania Football Confederation).
FIFA is the international body governing world soccer. The confederations are essentially its six constituents. FIFA has approximately 209 member associations, each representing organized soccer in a particular nation or territory. One cannot be a member association of FIFA without first joining one of the continental confederations.
Question 7: Which of the examples below is not cited in the indictment as a repository for money laundering?
- a supermarket
- a laundry
- a swimming pool builder
- a real estate and investment company
- a company making soccer balls and uniforms
Answer: 2. A large supermarket chain in Trinidad and Tobago and a Trinidadian real estate and investment company were said to be intermediaries by which Jack Warner laundered his share of $10 million for voting for South Africa’s World Cup bid.
For his role in helping secure commercial rights to CFU 2018 and 2022 World Cup qualifier matches (the Caribbean Football Union or ‘CFU’ is a member association of CONCACAF), Jeffrey Webb was said to be the recipient of a bribe paid via a host of intermediaries ultimately to his swimming pool builder on account of a pool built at his residence in Loganville, Georgia.
In exchange for Jeffrey Webb’s agreement to award the contract for commercializing the 2013 Gold Cup / Champions League Contract to a particular sports marketing agency, he was said to receive a $1.1 million bribe to be laundered via a false invoice to an overseas company making soccer balls and uniforms.
Question 8: It sounds straight out of a movie, but what is the 3 June INTERPOL Red Notice issued at the request of the US authorities concerning six of the 14 defendants?
- an international arrest warrant
- a notice compelling a member country to arrest the subject of the notice
- a notice by which INTERPOL informs member countries that an arrest warrant has been issued and seeking help to locate and arrest the wanted person
- similar to an INTERPOL Black Notice
Answer: 3. INTERPOL has explained that the Red Notice is not 1. or 2. A Red Notice is not similar to a Black Notice, because the latter concerns a request for help by INTERPOL to seek information on unidentified bodies. Yes, there are other colours too… See here for an explanation of Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Purple and Black and Orange INTERPOL Notices.
INTERPOL can now Tweet Red Notices, as it has done so here.
Question 9: Identify the odd one out – Which bribe below is not the subject of the indictment or associated commentary?
- Mr 10%
- a lot
Answer: 1. This is the odd one out because of the low amount involved, and also because the number is not round. It is fair to say that none of the alleged bribes were, for example, for $927,302.
There are a few instances of what are said to be $40,000 bribes. The most notable concerns the 2011 FIFA Presidential Election Scheme where, after a special meeting of CFU member associations at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Trinidad and Tobago, it is claimed Jack Warner then invited officials to pick up a ‘gift’ afterwards at a conference room in the hotel. The gift was said to be USD $40,000 in an envelope.
According to the indictment, Jack Warner was unhappy that at least one person decided to tell someone else about the $40,000 experience, apparently saying: “There are some people here who think they are more pious than thou. If you’re pious, open a church, friends. Our business is our business.”
As for Mr 10%, this was apparently the nick name for Chuck Blazer, and reflected the ‘commission’ he would generate from football as he helped grow its popularity in the United States.
As for the reference to ‘a lot’, two examples illustrate the mind numbing amounts of money claimed in the indictment to have been splashed around. First, there is the claimed bidding war for Jack Warner’s vote for the 2010 World Cup between Morocco (only prepared to offer $1 million) and South Africa ($10 million for three votes including Warner).
Secondly, in relation to the claimed Copa America Centenario Scheme Bribes, the indictment contains a table indicating that the bribes were almost a third again of the contract price. For instance, the total contract price was said to be $352.5 million, but the total bribes were said to be $110 million.
Question 10: The indictment claims Eugenio Figueredo falsely obtained United States’ citizenship. For one point, tick two of the reasons why.
- He brought in more than USD $10,000 into the United States without declaring it to Customs
- He worked in sales at a decorative rocks business
- He smuggled in two chinchilla cats without first putting them into quarantine
- He claimed to have dementia preventing him from sitting the United States’ literacy test
Answer: 2. and 4. The indictment states that according to a naturalization application the FIFA Vice President filed in 2005 with U.S. immigration authorities, beginning in 1997 he worked in “sales” at a “decorative rock” business in Irwindale, California. In his application, he was said to have falsely affirmed under penalty of perjury that (a) he neither worked anywhere else in the previous five years nor ever had any affiliation with any organization or association in the United States or in any other place; and (b) he was exempt from the required English language and civics exams because of a mental disability. Prior to obtaining his U.S. citizenship in· August 2006, he is also said to have submitted documentation explaining his mental disability that falsely stated that he had severe dementia.
Despite such apparent dementia, Mr Figueredo has been a FIFA vice president and executive committee member. He also previously served as CONMEBOL (the South American federation) president and the president of Uruguay’s soccer federation.
Here is a 2014 picture of Mr Figueredo from the official CONMEBOL Twitter feed, presiding over his compatriots after his miraculous recovery from (alleged) dementia.
Question 11: Which job description is most likely to say: “Must have mental agility and be required to think outside the square”, having regard to the indictment?
- a person who works in sales at a decorative rocks business
- a banker
- one of the defendants
- a person who works in a sports marketing agency
Answer: 4. Spare a thought for the proprietor of the sports marketing agency, likely to become a maligned species based on the allegations in the indictment.
The sports marketing agency is a key intermediary facilitating commercial deals in football and other sports (e.g. sponsorship rights, hosting rights, TV rights). Based on the indictment, these agencies must often compete with each other to secure the right to become the negotiating party. They must then try to secure the deal for, say, the sponsor they represent. As ‘middle men’ they have to navigate the ethical issues required to win the contract for their client. If this involves a bribe in addition to the contract price and the agency decides to do this (noting there are those who will not), there is the separate negotiation to determine the bribe amount. Then the bribe must be paid in a manner concealing detection. The process sounds appallingly stressful.
Question 12: Which of these fun facts about Chuck Blazer is not true.
- He had an apartment just for his cats
- He once traveled with Nelson Mandela on a private plane
- He walked around Central Park every day
- Vladimir Putin once remarked to him: “You know, you look like Karl Marx”
Answer: 3. With a massive hat tip to The Independent, you MUST have a look at Chuck Blazer’s defunct blog which has been rightly described as “all kinds of amazing”. As for Chuck Blazer’s walking ability, reports suggest his eating ability became his predominant focus.
As for Chuck’s cats, they now have their own Twitter handle.
Question 13: Who are the people likely to suffer from corrupt practices, such as those alleged? Tick the odd one out.
- Members of national teams, youth leagues and development programs who miss out on financial support from parent organisations they would otherwise obtain
- The ability of fair sports marketing companies to compete for rights on a level playing field
- Conscientious members and leaders who might want to join FIFA or carry out its core missions
- The people who accept bribes and kickbacks (other than the 14 defendants now in the international spotlight)
Answer 4. The gross nature of the sums being discussed, and the likely systemic nature of the corrupt practices alleged (at least in some regions around the world) suggests that there are many people who have profited for decades and who may well go undetected. Let us hope that finally they are being deprived, at least, of a sound sleep at night. As for 1. to 3., paragraph 73 of the indictment eloquently explains the harmful effect of such corrupt conduct.
How did you score?
23 – 26: You are a FIFA Superstar! Bask in being the Pelé of FIFA trivia knowledge. Alternatively, you are a sports journalist who has been following developments 24/7 and are also really good with acronyms.
19 – 22: You are a FIFA Expert! Not only Jose Mourinho should call himself the Special One. You are a Special One too thanks to your consistently correct approach to the answers, with perhaps a little trouble with just a few acronyms.
10 – 18: You are a FIFA Mid Level Official! Yes, perhaps not high enough to have experienced the heady days of private jet air travel, free tickets or an expensive painting from a New York art gallery (see paragraph 98 of the indictment for that one), you are aware of your fiduciary duties, your ethical obligations, and you are ready to form part of the new brigade ready to take FIFA forward into a bright (and likely highly regulated) future.
1 – 9: You are a FIFA Novice! You managed to get the obvious answers right but clearly need to bury yourself in more detailed allegations of corrupt activities. To help you show off some new-found knowledge, here is the 40 page released transcript of the Chuck Blazer hearing for your review. For a big bonus point to reach FIFA Mid Level Official status, answer the following question: What was the amount of the unsecured bond agreed by Chuck Blazer? Hint 1: It’s a round number. Hint 2: Find it at page 36.