A turbulent period for FIFA began May 2010 when the world’s governing body for soccer was presented with official bid documents by Australia, England, Netherlands/Belgium, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Russia, Spain/Portugal and the United States of America for the 2018 and 2022 world cups. During the ceremony at its swiss headquarters, FIFA announced the inspections dates of the bidding nations from July to September.
If things look bad for FIFA — Sepp Blatter seemingly on his way out as president while an FBI corruption probe gathers pace — they might be about to get a lot whole lot worse.
As the corruption crisis engulfing FIFA shows no sign of ending, a doomsday scenario for the organization would mean having a large portion of its assets seized by world banks — leaving it unable to run its operations, and potentially scaring off sponsors — according to lawyers in the UK and U.S.
In a blog headlined “Liquidate FIFA?,” Guy Thomas, a British insolvency lawyer with an expertise in sport, speculates that a lack of leadership at FIFA — combined with the long arm of U.S. federal authorities — could completely handcuff the organization.
“The basic operation of FIFA is to run world football,” Thomas told CNN after we contacted him following the publication of his blog “and it needs money to do so.”
Including its showcase World Cup tournaments, FIFA hosts 10 men’s and five women’s tournaments overall. They include youth tournaments, club tournaments, and even a beach soccer tournament scheduled for July in Portugal. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is also underway in Canada, featuring teams from 24 countries.
Thomas pointed out that U.S. jurisdiction over money fraud can stretch far and wide. Not only that, but regulatory bodies in other countries may follow suit with their own investigations, he wrote.
So far, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has not launched its own inquiry into FIFA’s financial matters, but it is monitoring the situation closely.
“The SFO continues actively to assess material in its possession and has made plain that it stands ready to assist continuing international criminal investigations,” read an emailed statement to CNN regarding the FIFA scandal.